The site of a former prison could be turned into new homes for key public-sector workers such as NHS staff, health secretary Alex Neil has announced.
The Craiginches Prison site in Aberdeen is to be sold to Sanctuary Scotland Housing Association, which will transform it into homes with the help of Scottish government cash.
The properties will include affordable housing targeted at key workers, particularly those in the health service.
The project is part of a pilot scheme being developed in a bid to improve housing opportunities for key workers in the public sector.
The housing association, Aberdeen City Council, NHS Grampian and the Scottish Government will now work together to come up with detailed plans for the development.
Mr Neil said: “There are record levels of staff working in our NHS - more nurses and doctors than ever before.
“But while we have supported this unprecedented recruitment by boards across Scotland, we know that some local areas like the north-east have experienced difficulties attracting staff.
“We need to think creatively and flexibly about helping where we can - which is exactly what today’s announcement is all about.
“Finding affordable housing in Aberdeen, in particular, has been noted as an issue that is causing difficulties in the recruitment and retention of staff.
“We hope these new homes will help NHS staff and other key workers find a place to live, so they can make a vital contribution to our public services.
“Finding affordable housing in the Aberdeen area is a real challenge for our staff”
Dr Annie Ingram
“We will now take forward the plans with partners and draw up a key workers policy to ensure these homes are targeted at the public service workers who really need them.
“This will go alongside our substantial affordable housing programme, which is providing new homes for people not just in Aberdeen but across Scotland.”
Dr Annie Ingram, director of workforce at NHS Grampian, said: “This is a very welcome initiative.
“Finding affordable housing in the Aberdeen area is a real challenge for our staff and can be a real disincentive to staff who want to work for NHS Grampian, but cannot afford to relocate to the area.
“We look forward to working with our partners to develop these plans.”
Aberdeen City Council leader councillor Jenny Laing said providing affordable housing in the city was a “key priority” for both the authority and the Scottish Government.
She added: “We welcome the announcement, especially given it comes the day after the council approved an early action investment programme to bring forward our own affordable housing plans.”