A MAJOR £100m housing and commercial development on the former IBM site in Greenock could create up to 400 new homes and 500 jobs.

McGill's owners Sandy and James Easdale have spoken about their plans for the sprawling 70-acre Spango Valley ahead of the first of two public consultation events which starts today.

The Greenock businessmen snapped up the land for £1.5m in December 2018 and believe their proposals will help tackle Inverclyde's population drain - a loss of around 1,700 people a year - and boost council coffers.

The masterplan is for between 400-500 new homes plus several industrial and commercial units, a pub, restaurant or cafe, community centre, children's playpark and a 'park and ride' car park to support the existing IBM Halt railway station, which is temporarily closed until the site is redeveloped.

It is estimated that the ambitious regeneration project could also create up to 500 jobs.

James Easdale told the Greenock Telegraph: "We believe the proposals have the potential to give a huge boost to Inverclyde, providing quality housing and commercial space that will be attractive to those already in the area as well those looking to relocate here.

"The transport links from Inverclyde to Glasgow, including bus and rail, park and ride, are second to none. "We expect the build to create around 400 to 500 jobs during construction and when houses start to become occupied, it would provide substantial growth to local businesses and retailers - as well as a great pot of additional council tax for the local authority.

"Recent decades have seen lots of people leaving Inverclyde - we have the ambition of reversing that trend.

"We want to breathe new life into Spango Valley and help the region's communities to thrive once more."

The development would also include various road access work, landscaping and nature trails, and take five to six years to complete.

The Tele recently revealed how the Easdales had appointed leading design and planning consultants, Barton Willmore, and top building company, Advance Construction, to spearhead the ambitious project.

A pre-planning application has now been submitted to gauge whether the public and the council would support such a development.

Part of the process is for consultation events to be held.

People will get their first look at the proposals and find out more about the plans at an event in St Andrew's Church hall, Auchmead Road, today from 2-8pm and at the same time next Tuesday.

Formal planning permission would be required at a later date if the idea gets the backing of the public and the council.

The land involved runs to the boundary with the former Greenock High School and takes in the disused 'blue building' call centre, which was occupied by IBM until 2016.

Spango Valley is one of a number of sites the Easdale family has purchased in recent years through its Arranglen investment company.