PLENTY of local labour is promised when restoration begins next month converting a historic mansion, gutted in an arson attack, into exclusive apartments.

Plans are underway for the work at Sandhill Park, on the outskirts of Bishops Lydeard, with the Grade II listed mansion house set to be the centrepiece.

The main building will be turned into 26 apartments, with 28 four and five-bedroom luxury homes around it.

Toby Ballard, managing director of Taunton-based Strongvox Homes, which is undertaking the park development, said the company had been working closely with English Heritage on the project as it is “of national significance”.

He added: “With the economy improving the market is strong and confidence in buying houses has boomed.

“As a Taunton-based company, we’ll be able to provide a lot of local employment during the course of the project.’’

Lawrence Butler, of Devington Homes, which is transforming the Georgian mansion, currently on the at-risk register, said: “We have a passion for restoring neglected, historic old buildings and recreating every last detail of the original design to provide unique and elegant homes.

“This is one of the finest properties we have had the opportunity to restore.”

The scheme will give the estate a new lease of life after much of the mansion was destroyed by fire in November 2011 – four men were subsequently jailed for the attack.

Ecological work is currently being carried out on the site and Strongvox is looking to begin construction next month.

Original parts of Sandhill Park date from 1720, when it was built by Minehead MP John Periam.

Since then the property has been extended with new wings and a portico and the main house was remodelled in the 19th Century.

Sandhill Park was sold in 1913 and uses since then have included a children’s home, prisoner of war camp and military hospital.

The sensitive plans for the restoration of the main building have been designed to retain the character of the original building while work in the grounds will also return the extensive walled gardens to their former glory.