MILLIONAIRE businessmen Sandy and James Easdale have opened talks with housing developers over the former IBM site in Greenock as the demolition of the final buildings begins.

The brothers are clearing the Spango Valley site to pave the way for a £100 million residential and commercial transformation in conjunction with their partners Advance Construction.

A planning application is in front of the council for 450 new homes alongside areas of new employment, leisure, community and retail use.

Demolition teams are now tearing down the old blue building call centre and it's hoped that work on the ambitious project could begin this year if planners give the green light.

It's estimated that 300 jobs - including at least 50 apprenticeships - could be created through the construction phase, which could last up to seven years.

Despite the Covid-19 crisis which has engulfed the local and national economy, the Easdales say they are fully committed to bringing the project to fruition.

Sandy Easdale said: “Getting the groundwork under way 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.”

The proposals also include a new ‘park and ride’ facility adjacent to the IBM train station, which would reopen it, plus areas of extensive green space, parkland and a network of new paths.

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 district.

“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 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 taking forward a huge £250 million, 850-home housing development at a 130-acre site in Glenrothes in Fife.

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's expected to cost £250m and take a decade to complete.