Derelict railway buildings near Inverness city centre could be bulldozed to make for a new £2million food distribution warehouse.
About 100 new jobs could be created in the Highland capital if the proposal by the haulage and logistics firm John G Russell is approved.
The new 11,000sq ft facility would replace old storage buildings at Needlefield, near the Kwik Fit garage on Longman Road.
The “staging post” will enable fresher food to be delivered to shops across the Highlands – and will take lorries off the A9 road from the central belt.
An outline planning application for the development has been lodged with Highland Council.
Network Rail owns the buildings and is understood to be supportive of the proposal.
Food would be transported to the warehouse by rail, sorted at the site and then delivered across the region.
It is expected that the project will take at least two years to complete.
Colin Smith, from the agent’s HG Consulting, said: “Probably the most positive piece of the whole thing is the number of big lorries it will take off the road.
“The building will be something that will be clean and tidy.
“It will be a steel-clad building with a south face and a low pitched roof. It will be simple and natural”.
Highland Council planners have informed the firm that the development will require listed building consent because of the city centre location.
Mr Smith said: “As a chartered surveyor, I can say it’s completely un-viable to try and restore a building that is partially collapsed, it has asbestos and has a basement.”
The developer plans to demolish the existing building, remove the asbestos and infill the floor.
The plans have emerged as the Longman Road gateway to the city undergoes major change.
A new £23million justice centre has been earmarked for a site in the area, while plans are being drawn up for a new development at the former Inverness College HQ, which has been vacant for more than a year.