THE keys to the Frank James Memorial Hospital site have been handed over to the owners, five years after volunteers began looking after the plot.
Planning permission was granted 15 years ago but a development never materialised.
The site has been subjected to a number of break-ins and vandalism over the years, and Safesite security firm was contracted to protect it.
Now the owners have pledged to start work on 17 flats, some within the existing building and some to the side of it.
The Friends of Frank James handed over the keys yesterday (Wednesday), and Tanja Rebel, one of the volunteers, said it was an emotional moment but she hoped the owners would help restore the building to its former glory.
She said she had been assured some of the fruit trees planted by volunteers would be retained, while others would be safely removed to make way for a car park.

Tanja told the County Press she planned to replant them elsewhere for the community to enjoy.