GROUNDWORK to prepare the massive former IBM Greenock site for a potential £100million residential and commercial transformation has started.
The site at Spango Valley, which is owned by Sandy and James Easdale and Advance Construction, is currently subject to a planning application for a mixed-use masterplan which would include up to 450 new homes, alongside areas of new employment, leisure, community and retail use.
The proposals include a park-and-ride facility beside the former IBM rail halt, which would re-open.
There would also be extensive areas of greenspace, parkland and a network of paths across the site.
Demolition of the final empty call centre building has begun and it is hoped that, if planning permission is approved, construction can begin before the end of 2020.
It is anticipated that 300 jobs — including at least 50 apprenticeships — will be created through the construction phase which could last up to seven years.
Sandy said: “Getting the groundwork underway and demolishing the remaining buildings at the site marks another major milestone in securing the long-term transformation of the former IBM site.
“This development has the potential to breathe new life into the area, bringing high-quality housing, new businesses and skilled jobs to Greenock. We’ve already been in discussions with several major housebuilders who see the potential at Spango Valley for those who already live locally as well as people who want to move to Inverclyde. This would help address the population decline in the area.
“Despite the economic crisis, we are more committed than ever to see this project become reality. It is a huge opportunity for the region at a time when good news is in short supply.”
James Easdale said: “Being local, we want to see the town prosper. IBM opened in 1951 and at one stage more than 5,000 people were employed there. It is now an empty shell and this has taken its toll on the region.
“If we get the go ahead to put our plans into action then apprenticeships, construction jobs and upon completion, commercial employment will all be brought to the area. The Spango Valley site will become a high-quality, vibrant, attractive environment in which to live and work. Such a boost is needed more than ever and we intend to deliver for Inverclyde.”
The Easdales, in partnership with Advance Construction, are also the driving force behind a huge £250 million, 850-home housing development at a 130-acre site in Glenrothes. The development at the former Tullis Russell paper mill will feature 850 new homes, a care home, retirement village, commercial, retail and leisure space and has already been approved by Fife Council. It is expected to cost £250m and take a decade to complete.
The last IBM staff at Spango Valley moved to offices at Riverside Business Park, Pottery Street, Greenock in September 2016 and the land was cleared.