Work on a new Inverness prison could begin in 2018
Construction of a new prison in Inverness could begin next year.
Highland councillors have given the Scottish Prison Service planning permission in principle for the prison on a site near Inverness Retail Park.
The new HMP Highland would replace 112-year-old Inverness Prison, which is near Inverness city centre.
Colliers International, a firm that helped to secure planning permission for the project, said building work could start in 2018.
A new prison to serve the Highlands and Islands and Moray has been a long-held aspiration of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).
Inverness Prison, also know as Porterfield, is not only one of the oldest jails in Scotland but also one of the smallest.
SPS had considered building HMP Highland on farmland next to Inverness' large suburb of Milton of Leys, but there was strong local opposition to this plan.
Last summer, the prison service revealed that it was looking at an alternative site and in February this year it set out its plans to develop the site near Inverness Retail Park.
The new site is also close to the Inverness Campus, the location of Inverness College UHI and Highlands and Islands Enterprise offices.