HOUSING bosses have been slammed over an 'astonishing' decision to demolish run-down homes in Greenock whilst the district's property market experiences 'significant shortages'.

Businessmen Sandy and James Easdale have hit out at proposals by River Clyde Homes (RCH) to level 48 disused tenement flats in Neil Street.

The Telegraph reported earlier this month that the move to take down the buildings, which have become a magnet for anti-social behaviour, is back on the table following a long-running fight by residents.

The RCH board has given the go-ahead for bulldozers to move in and it is hoped that work will begin in the summer.

The news followed a previous announcement that over 100 homes at Kelburn Terrace in Port Glasgow were also to be demolished by RCH - Inverclyde’s largest social housing provider.

But the billionaire businessmen have attacked the plan, claiming that it does not make sense.

Sandy Easdale said: “Inverclyde is facing significant housing shortages and has done for several years, with a lack of available properties for locals and people looking to move into the area to set up home.

Greenock Telegraph: Neil Street flatsNeil Street flats (Image: Bowman Rebecchi)

“This is all while Inverclyde has some of the highest depopulation, mortality, and deprivation statistics in Scotland.

“I therefore find it astonishing that the largest housing provider in the area is looking to demolish over 150 properties from its current portfolio when these could be refurbished and put back out to the market.

“Significant sums of money have been spent historically on the properties, especially at Kelburn Terrace which are large flats, ideal for families and excellently located for links to the west and central Scotland.

“The price to demolish these will be substantial and only act as a further significant cost to RCH.

“The properties at Neil Street were put to the open market in 2021 with a buyer identified only for River Clyde Homes to now decide these should be demolished after a five-year process.

“Where else would this business model work other than the current public sector model in Scotland?“

The recent development on demolition had been welcomed by ward councillor Tommy McVey, who has relentlessly pursued the issue, however, he said it was unacceptable it has taken five years to reach this stage.

READ MOREEyesore flats in Greenock set to be demolished next year after lengthy wait

But James Easdale has highlighted a lack of private sites available to entice developers into Inverclyde.

He added: “If the units at Neil Street and Kelburn were properly managed and maintained, the income would be close to £1 million per annum for River Clyde Homes and more importantly start to relieve some of the significant local demand.

“The focus cannot and should not be purely on the development of new properties by social housing providers, who should be held to account to ensure their existing stock is correctly managed, marketed and maintained to ensure fewer voids within their portfolios.

“The Scottish Government and Inverclyde Council should also be doing more to support and incentivise social housing providers to ensure their portfolios and vacant land are well maintained and ensure increased council tax and revenue opportunities in Inverclyde.

Greenock Telegraph: The flats in Neil Street are set to be demolished next yearThe flats in Neil Street are set to be demolished next year (Image: Bowman Rebecchi)

“All options including disposal for the private market should also be considered, rather than just demolishing good quality stock in prime locations or sitting on greenfield sites for long periods.”

The Easdale Investment Group is behind several housing projects that will create over 3,000 new homes within the next decade throughout Scotland and estimated at £800 million, with 450 new homes now approved for the former IBM Spango Valley site in Greenock.

READ MORE: Inverclyde's billionaire businessmen brothers extend their £800m property portfolio

Earlier this month, approval was also granted by Inverclyde Council for the creation of 47 new homes at the site of the former Tate & Lyle factory in Greenock as part of a new £15m development.

A River Clyde Homes spokesperson told the Tele: "RCH is committed to providing an affordable and sustainable housing stock for Inverclyde.

"Over the last four years, RCH has developed over 400 new homes for social housing.

"Occasionally, there is also a requirement to demolish unsustainable stock.

"Any demolition is subject to appropriate community consultation, including governance and approvals from appropriate external bodies."