Plans to build 27 new flats at a prominent site in an Inverness suburb have been given the go-ahead.
The affordable homes are now expected to be built next year on waste ground between Westhill, Culloden and Smithton.
The project is being developed by city-based firm Compass Building and Construction.
The flats will be built on the gap site above Smithon-Culloden Free Church, close to the busy Tower Road which links the villages to Westhill.
The church is one of the busiest in Scotland, with 650 people attending the two Sunday services.
It also serves as a community facility and church leaders had given their backing to the housing plan, which they viewed as an opportunity to extend their parking provision.
Compass submitted a full planning application for the scheme earlier this year, saying it would address a “real need” for affordable housing in the Inverness area.
A supporting statement by planning agent Bracewell Stirling Consulting explained that the site was currently scrub land and
could not be used as a play park because of its proximity to the busy Tower Road.
The properties have been designed in tiers down the sloping site and would take access from a new junction off Tower Road.
The planning consultants described the flats as having a “striking contemporary design” in fitting with the church building.
Smithton and Culloden Community Council raised concerns about the safety of the road access to the site, but local authority transport engineers were “satisfied” by the proposed arrangements.
Approving the scheme under delegated powers, planning officers concluded: “All relevant matters have been taken into account when appraising this application.
“It is considered that the proposal accords with the principles and policies contained with the development plan and is acceptable in terms of all other applicable material considerations.”
The developer has said it hoped work would start on the site in early next year, with the properties to be completed early in 2018.