Work has finally started on a long-awaited Bradford city centre development which has been on the cards for almost a decade.

Construction has begun on the first part of the £45million Citygate scheme in Manchester Road, developer The Skelwith Group has confirmed.

Managing director Paul Ellis said they were delighted to have started work on the project, which would “dramatically transform a very important gateway into the city”.

The York-based firm has appointed Arete Construction as the main contractor, which will work alongside local sub-contractors.

Work has now started on a 75-apartment building which will eventually form part of a wider development of more than 500 one and two-bedroom flats.

It is hoped the first building will be finished by spring next year.

Mr Ellis said: “We are delighted to be finally on site and commencing work. Citygate is a fantastic development for Bradford, not only will affordable city centre living return to the city once it’s complete, but it will also dramatically transform a very important gateway into the city.

“We are optimistic regarding the future of Bradford and we expect this will act as a catalyst for further regeneration in the city.”

He said throughout the development process, Skelwith has worked closely with both Bradford Council and community organisation Bradford Trident.

Mick Binns, chief executive of Bradford Trident, said: “We're delighted that this important development is now on site.

“It will create much-needed new homes and improve the area greatly.”

Councillor David Green, leader of Bradford Council, welcomed the news that work had started.

He said: “It’s another scheme that has been delayed but through the hard work of the developer and the Council it’s another scheme that we have got off the ground.

“We are going to continue to move forward with getting both new developments and stalled developments started and continue to take this district forward.”

Development of the site, formerly the Reyner House parade of 1960s shops and flats, has been beset with delays.

The regeneration project was originally announced in 2005, when Bradford Trident held a competition to find a developer.

But the winner of the competition, Asquith Properties, went into administration in 2008, forcing the plan to be shelved.

The Skelwith Group stepped in two years later to resurrect the project.