THE BUILDING that once housed Thornbury Police Station came crashing down on Friday afternoon as plans to develop the site into a sheltered housing complex got underway.

The site will be converted into a block of flatsthat will provide luxury homes for people over 60.

Developer Churchill Retirement Living was granted planning permission for project in August 2013.

Planning director Andrew Burgess said he hoped the project would be completed by Spring 2015.

He said: "It's going to take up 12 months to build it once we have cleared the site which should take another four weeks approximately.

The sheltered housing complex that will replace the former station will include 35 flats, a communal lounge and library, a guest suite for overnight visitors, mobility scooter storage and a car park. A 24-hour careline system would also be available to residents.

"We've already had a considerable amount of interest from local people," said Mr Burgess.

He said the company chose to build in Thornbury because there had not been a sheltered living scheme in the area for many years and Churchill Retirement Living felt there was considerable need for older people in the area to be able to live independently while also also having the security of a managed development with communal facilities.

"The location on Rock Street is ideal because it is very accessible for the shops and facilities in the town."

Claire Hartry, 28, from Tweed Close, Thornbury brought her daughter Mia, 3, to the site on Friday afternoon to watch the demolition.

She said: “We’ve been watching for the last while. I didn’t know they were knocking it down until I saw the crane when I was walking by this morning.

“I still have no idea why the police station closed in the first place but we had our suspicions it would be converted into flats.”

Claire said she was in favour of conversion of the site into a block of flats as long and the external design of the new building “A ridiculously high building would be silly in this place and the new building should be the same design as the other ones around here.”

John and Vivien Reynolds from Thornbury town said they were sorry to have lost the police station.

“It was useful to have a police station in the centre of town to report things because lot of people wouldn’t bother going to Bristol.”

“We keep being told that we need more flats in Thornbury but do we really?,” said John.

He said he thought it was a good idea to build flats for the elderly.

“It would be good for them because it is so close to the centre of the town and it would be easy for them to get to the shops.”

The Rock Street station closed to the public in May 2011 in response to a drop in demand. It had been averaging one or two visits per hour, with only four needing to be dealt with in person each month.