THE foundations have been laid for 96 new homes across Inverclyde costing almost £14 million.

Housing provider Sanctuary has started work on the first of its four developments for social rent, at Mount Pleasant Street in Greenock.

Forty-four flats are being built on the former Highlanders' Academy site and they are expected to be ready by August next year.

Work is also under way on 24 'amenity' apartments in Dubbs Road in Port Glasgow, with a further 12 houses and four cottage flats due for Lilybank Road.

Both developments are due for completion by summer 2020.

Sanctuary's remaining 12 new-builds will be located in the Port's Broadstone Avenue. Work on the houses is scheduled to start in September and is expected to take 12 months.

Councillor Michael McCormick, convener of Inverclyde Council's environment and regeneration committee, formally marked the start of construction at Mount Pleasant Street alongside fellow elected members Elizabeth Robertson, Graeme Brooks, Provost Martin Brennan and MSP Stuart McMillan.

The four developments are expected to cost £13.8m in total, with a grant of £7.2m coming from the Scottish Government.

Cllr McCormick said: "We are pleased to be involved with Sanctuary's first project in Inverclyde. "These homes are an important addition to the area's stock of social housing.

"Nearly 100 local families will benefit and will be able to access these homes through the Inverclyde common housing register.

"The council is working hard with the Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership to ensure older people can live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as possible, so it is excellent news that the Port Glasgow development includes amenity flats with facilities like walk-in showers."

The Dubbs Road apartments are being built on the site of the former Boglestone Clinic, which closed in January 2017 and was demolished in August of that year.

Sanctuary also snapped up the old Lilybank School plot and land in neighbouring Broadstone Avenue for the other two Port Glasgow developments.

Alex Clark, Sanctuary Scotland's vice-chairperson, said: "I'm delighted local residents will soon be able to live in new-build Sanctuary homes.

"The range of affordable properties provided by these projects will improve the lives of dozens of people across Inverclyde."

Once completed, all 96 homes will be managed by Sanctuary Scotland Housing Association.