A masterplan which will see a new hospital, up to 250 houses, a science academy, community and commercial buildings constructed at Fort William has been submitted.
Highland Council is seeking planning permission in principle for the huge development on land north east of Blar Mhor Industrial Estate at Lochyside.
The site chosen to become home to the region’s new medical facility will become home to one of the town’s largest developments in decades under the plans.
Health chiefs believe the creation of a new hospital is vital if the region’s healthcare needs are to be met into the future.
The new hospital will replace the existing Belford Hospital, which opened in 1965 as part of the redesign of Lochaber’s health services.
In the design statement prepared by agents Inverness-based Threesixty Architecture, it is stated that the project will be carried out over a number of phases.
The first phase is likely to be a residential development of up to 125 units. It is intended that this will begin next year. Timescales for the hospital part of the development are unknown.
Housing is to be a mix of flatted, semi detached or detached homes ranging from one-bedroom to four bedrooms in size. There will be groupings of single storey bungalows and clusters of three storey flats.
It will be a range of low cost ownership, mid-market, or social rent and private. A minimum of 25 per cent of the homes will be affordable, however this is likely to be up to 100 per cent in the first phase, the statement claims.
The application is one of several plans to boost the area, inclduing plans for an alloy wheel plant in the town that is expected to create hundreds of jobs.
A date for the masterplan to go before the planning committee is still to be fixed.
A spokeswoman for Highland Council said: “The Highland Council has invested £2million in the purchase of the Blar Mhor site to make provision for a new hospital for NHS Highland and potentially a new science academy for the West Highland college. This project will eventually enable the building of affordable housing and business opportunities on the current site of the Belford Hospital.”
Minister for housing, local government and planning, Kevin Stewart, said: “Fort William has a growing population. It has already had major investment in terms of housing from the Scottish Government and we are keen to see more housing in Fort William to keep up with the economic growth that is taking place in that area.”