DEMOLITION work has started on former Government offices in Taunton town centre.

The 1960s Quantock House tower block, on Paul Street, is being taken down floor by floor.

Workers moved in last Monday and the work on the building that has been part of the county town's skyline for 50 years is expected to take six to eight weeks.

Construction will then start next year on a nine-storey complex of a care home and extra care apartments.

A spokesman for the developer, Quantum Group, said: "Many people would like to see the building being demolished in one go with dynamite, but unfortunately this is not possible due to its location and neighbouring properties.

"The building will therefore be brought down floor by floor.

"We have tried to schedule the works to have as little impact as possible on our local residents and businesses during the summer months.

"However, we are very conscious that we can’t leave it any later as this could have an impact on the Christmas trade, which is critical to the businesses of Taunton, especially our near neighbours.

"We have written to local businesses and residents to inform them, and will also be setting up a construction liaison group."

Quantock House previously housed Government departments the Valuation Office and Defra before falling vacant several years ago.

The new development will consist of a 60-bed care home and 61 extra care units, with a number of stores on site.

It could be completed and already have its first residents living there by mid-2019.

There will be extensive landscaping, 26 car parking spaces, including disabled bays, and space for mobility scooters.

Facilities will include kitchen, laundry, a hairdressers, beauty treatments, a library, a restaurant and a bakery.

Quantum has held discussions with Taunton Deane Borough Council and neighbouring businesses and staged public exhibitions to inform people of their plans for the community for people aged over 55.