Ground preparations are underway at the site of a long-awaited housing development in Largs - six years after the ground was vacated.

Construction work will formally commence today (Monday 15, January) at the site of the former St Mary’s Primary building, following some early preparatory works.

A total of 26 new homes will be built on the site, which will be a natural extension to the neighbouring 123-unit Flatt Road development which was completed in 2021.

The development at Linn Avenue will be the latest addition to the council’s house-building programme which is delivering more than 1,600 new homes right across North Ayrshire.

North Coast SNP councillor Alan Hill said: "I am delighted that the council has managed to secure funds to allow for even more housing to be built within Largs.  

"We have waited a long time for extra housing in our area and it is great that the SNP administration has been able to bring forward even more, much-needed housing for the area. 

"My understanding is that information will be forthcoming via the wee paper, social media and through newsletters explaining what people need to do to be considered for these new houses."

The £6million project will be supported by £4m Scottish Government grant funding.

The new homes, which will be available for affordable rent from the council, will provide a mix of two and three-bedroom amenity and general needs homes. The provision of affordable, accessible and sustainable homes supports the Council Plan priorities to improve wellbeing and address climate change.

Plans will also be developed to consider options for the open spaces adjacent to the homes. It is expected that community groups and local school pupils will help play a key role in how these spaces can best be used.

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Councillor Hill added: "I am also really pleased that we will be able to look to develop some of the land remaining on the former school site. 

"The plan is to work with local children and young people via our schools as well as neighbours and the wider community to look at what might be placed on this site. 

"The area is short of play facilities and I am sure that local children will look forward to co-designing the new playpark. 

"There will also be space left which could be considered for other community uses such as a growing space, further play area etc.” 

"The main construction contractor is Ashleigh (Scotland) Limited and the construction work is expected to be completed by spring 2025."

The St Mary’s Primary site was initially earmarked for an innovative housing programme called Home Ownership Made Easy (HOME), which would have allowed tenants to own a partial stake in their home.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic, followed by the worldwide rise in construction costs and inflation, meant that the HOME scheme was no longer financially viable, requiring an alternative future to be found for the site.

Following an extensive assessment of the council's proposal, the Scottish Government confirmed its willingness to fund the project through its Affordable Housing Supply Programme, recognising the shovel-ready status of the project and its contribution to increasing local and national social housing supply.

Conservative councillor Tom Marshall said: "Congratulations to the housing officers for being able to get this £4m direct from the Scottish Government to build the new housing.

"It is unfortunate the previous scheme for shared equity didn't stack up but it is great to add this to council housing stock."

Independent councillor Ian Murdoch added: "I am delighted that the council are now going ahead with this - I didn't think the original HOME plan was a good idea for the site, and building general council housing is the best option. 

"I have asked about the best use for the additional land available and whether more housing can be built, and building a playpark is a no-brainer, and hope the land can be used to its best potential."