PLANS for a new £13m social housing development in Greenock have taken a step closer.

The Link Group want to build 198 homes at the sprawling former Ravenscraig Hospital site off Inverkip Road.

Planning officials have now received an official application for the development.

The proposed development would include a mix of flats and houses and 19 wheelchair accessible properties.

Developers plan to build 149 homes for social rent by March 2021, followed by a second phase of building.

Half of the homes would be managed by Larkfield Housing Association, a Link Group subsidiary, with the other managed by Oak Tree Housing Association.

As part of the project, a new signalled junction on Inverkip Road is also proposed.

This would include moving the current Branchton junction to the east, to be aligned with Gleninver Road.

According to the plans, the site will have one point of access from Branchton Road with the second bridge access from Inverkip Road being retained for pedestrian, cycle and emergency access.

Earlier this year local residents complained that they were left in the dark about a public consultation organised by the Link Group about the plans.

But the planning application states that the consultation was well attended and the feedback was 'positive'.

The design statement submitted to the council says: "The event was attended by in excess of 30 local residents.

"The views of the local residents on the proposed development were on the whole very positive.

"The proposed density, mix of house types and architectural proposals were well received and the locals of Branchton were keen to see the site developed to address current

issues with fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.

"The requirement for accessible and exemplar properties as well as flatted accommodation was also noted and additional one bedroom flats were introduced to the mix of types."

The statement also addresses concerns raised about an increase in traffic flow on Branchton Road.

It added: "The proposals for the realignment and signalisation of the junction with Inverkip Road were positively received and most agreed that this would be an improvement on the current situation.

"However residents sought comfort that if Branchton Road were to be closed for any reason that access across the development site onto Inverkip Road from the north western

railway bridge would be permitted.

"Link raised this issue with Inverclyde's roads department who confirmed that this would be the agreed strategy to allow exit and access to Branchton in the case of the closure of Branchton Road."

A decision on the planning application is expected later this year.