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Scottish Ghost Town

Clune Park, Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, only has about 20 inhabitants in its 430 flats (Picture: SWNS)

In pictures: Inside the Scottish ‘mini Beirut’ ghost town where only 20 people live in 430 flats

These stunning photos show life inside one of Britain’s last ghost towns.

Dubbed a ‘mini Beirut’ by one of its inhabitants, the Clune Park estate in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, once housed hundreds of shipyard workers, but is now home to only about 20 people living in a handful of its 430 flats.

Property on the estate was once the cheapest in Britain, with one flat selling for just £7,000 at auction - but it has been plagued by arsonists and vandals with shops, a primary school and church all boarded up and abandoned.

In the past eight months, arsonists have started 14 fires there and thieves looking for scrap metal to sell have smashed through walls in abandoned buildings.

But a plan to bulldoze the tenement blocks has resulted in a long and bitter battle between Inverclyde Council and private landlords refusing to sell up.

Despite stark warnings that the conditions are not suitable for habitation, a handful of residents are clinging on - kept there either by the astonishingly low rents or an unwillingness to leave.

With rents as low as £250 for a one-bed flat, within easy reach of Glasgow, the estate has become an unlikely commuter belt for those brave enough to stay there.

Julie Kane, 56, has lived on the estate for two-and-a-half years after moving from the idyllic Isle of Skye where she lived for more than 20 years.

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Ms Kane, originally from Yorkshire, said: “I’ve got connections in Glasgow through family and was going to move into Glasgow city centre but the rents were outrageous.

“Somebody said try over here and at first when I saw the place I thought, ‘Oh my God, a mini Beirut’.

“At that point there was a lot of complaints from tenants about drug addicts and things but the flat was brilliant for the price so I thought I'd give it six months and I’ve been here ever since.”

But Inverclyde Council - which described the estate as a ‘festering wound’ and warned of a risk of ‘catastrophic collapse’ and ‘potential tragedy’ - estimated ten years ago that costs of renovation would stretch to £36 million.

The local authority has bought 165 of the flats and issued “closing orders” - meaning the homes cannot be inhabited - on another 90.

In 2011, a regeneration plan was agreed by the council, and three years later a compulsory demolition order was issued after the renovation of the flats was ruled out due to costs.

But it was fought viciously by landlords owning 96 properties, around a quarter of the total - and in 2016 a sheriff revoked the order.

The local authority has gradually been buying up properties across the five blocks but some landlords have refused to sell up, demanding more cash.

Councillor Michael McCormick, Convener of Inverclyde Council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee, said: “In the council’s opinion all of the flats on the estate are Below the Tolerable Standard (BTS) – they don’t meet the basic requirements to be classed as fit for people to live in.

"The council is working towards demolishing all the buildings and clearing the site to allow this neglected part of Port Glasgow to be regenerated.

“The remaining owners need to recognise that the only future for these homes is demolition and, frankly, the sooner the better.”