COUNCIL bosses have pledged to speed up plans to build new student accommodation on the site of an old bus depot after the second fire in a matter of months broke out in it.

Two fire crews were called to the building in Magdalen Street, Colchester just after 6pm on Sunday.

It came after a fire had broken out at the same building in November.

That blaze was believed to have been started by homeless people who use the building for shelter.

But the cause of the most fire has been determined as accidental.

Staff at van company J.D. Robertson & Co, based near the depot, said the building’s windows are often broken and used to gain entry.

The building was previously used by bus company First to store its fleet and was blighted by yobs breaking in and stealing the vehicles.

Since the firm moved out, Victoria Hall Management has applied to convert the site into a 230-bed student accommodation centre split across five blocks.

Colchester Council still owns the building and is in talks with developers.

A spokesman said: “The former bus depot site has planning permission for redevelopment to deliver managed student accommodation, and the council hopes the developer will proceed to implement this scheme.

“We have reviewed the security of the site, in the light of previous problems, but inevitably vacant sites are vulnerable to unauthorised entry.

“The best solution is for development to proceed, and the council is currently in discussion with the developers to progress this outcome.”

An Essex County Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “On arrival firefighters reported that the fire was in a room of a derelict building.

“They extinguished the fire by 6.20pm. The cause has been recorded as accidental.”

A patient was taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Their condition is not though to be serious.