AMBITIOUS plans to build 18 new council homes at St Beya Gardens in Millport have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The new £2.6m development, which will consist of bungalows, terraces and semi-detached properties, with homes suitable for wheelchair users, had been scheduled for completion by late 2020.

But with lockdown halting planning and initial construction work, it is now unlikely to be completed until the middle of 2021.

The development is part of a larger North Ayrshire Council project to construct more than 1,500 new houses in the local authority area by 2025, supported by the Scottish Government.

This includes the current development in Largs Flatt Road, where the building of 122 new houses has also been halted since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Councillor Alex Gallagher said the new project - when it is finally ready - will be an exciting one for the island.

He told the News: “The Labour administration has a very ambitious council and social housing plan for every area and we will make sure that Cumbrae is an integral part of North Ayrshire and gets its share.

“We have proved this with other developments on the island in the last few years.

“It makes it more affordable and more likely that young families will stay on the island. It’s a good thing in itself and it helps with the economic and social development of Cumbrae.”

Construction firm Ashleigh (Scotland) Ltd is currently carrying out visits to the site to ensure that all rules and regulations can be followed with regards to Covid-19 safety measures.

The company aims to ensure minimal disruption to island residents during the work, with all deliveries and workers ensuring social distancing at all times.

Cabinet Member for Green New Deal & Sustainability, Jim Montgomerie, said: “We are aware that the current pandemic has created difficulties and challenges for us all, including the construction industry.

“However, as lockdown begins to ease and restrictions are gradually lifted, we can start to look towards returning to some sort of normality and that means we can prepare to resume our house-building programme.

“We would reassure local residents that they are likely to see more activity on site - this initial work will involve putting measures in place to keep everyone safe and help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“It is important for all workers to feel safe when they return to work and these preparations include new measures to maintain social distancing.”