Attempts to build on the plot of land, which has been abandoned since 2000, has been fraught with delays.

The site has changed hands numerous times over the years, and current owners, Altitude Real Estate, who bought the patch of ground at the top of Mount Pleasant Road in 2016, have pushed back the start date for work to commence at least twice.

Now the £80million Belvedere project, which will see at least 99 homes, a boutique cinema, along with shops and restaurants built on the derelict location, has taken a step closer, with the firm behind the development pledging that building work will ‘begin in the summer’.

The Times also understand more announcements are planned in the coming weeks, including who will be behind the building of the promised near-100 apartments.

Speaking to the Times, Stephen Tillman, Director of Altitude said: “You will start to see some activity at the beginning of summer, with the real building work to begin at the tail end of the season.

“We do apologise for the delays but these things take time to sort out with tenders and contracts and so forth.

“But residents will be pleased to hear that progress is being made.”

He explained that many of the delays have been due to the unique nature of the site, which sits above the tunnels coming in to Tunbridge Wells train station.

“Before construction can start on the site, a range of work has been ongoing in the background including surveys, work with Network Rail and public rights of way.

“Work is currently underway to further refine the design and, following positive discussions, we are hopeful that we will shortly be in a position to announce some more exciting news that will bring forward the delivery of the scheme.

“Over the coming months more information will be released as the detailed design progresses, with the anticipation of a start on site during the summer months.”

The news will come as a relief to many in the town, including local MP Greg Clark, who complained that the site had ‘blighted the centre of the town’ for far too long.

The Belvedere will be a mixed-use development, which planners say will complement the other major developments in the town, including the council’s Calverley Square project.

It is expected to be completed sometime in 2021, and Altitude are aiming to get local people involved in the final plans.

Mr Tillman said: “As part of the promises made with our planning application for the Belvedere, a small competition is to be held to invite designs for the metal cladding proposed around the new cinema. This is to be open to local artists and we will look to find ways to involve local residents to have a say on its appearance.

“Details of the competition shall be released in the next month or so. In addition, a water feature is to be provided on the main corner of the development, the details of which shall be progressed with the detailed design of the building.”

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