‘No need’ for UWS pitch ‘vandalism’

Green campaigners say there was no need for the archeological survey that led to the “vandalism” of Paisley sports pitches.

Save Paisley’s Green Space has lodged a formal complaint with Renfrewshire Council, arguing previous work at the Thornly Park sports pitches shows the site is not of historical importance.

The council, however, says its permission was not needed to carry out the work.

The Express reported last Monday that trenches three feet deep had been dug and huge mounds of earth displaced as part of a standard archaeological investigation.

Owners, the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), said the probe was needed as part of the planning application it has submitted to demolish the pitches, student accommodation and Robertson Sport Centre to make way for 179  houses.

The pitches have been well used by the local community throughout lockdown
(Image: Andrew Neil)

But Save Paisley’s Green Space says the West of Scotland Archaeological Services (WOSAS) insisted the dig would only be needed if planning permission was granted.

And, the group argues, it is completely unnecessary because OS maps, public records and initial work by Miller Homes – UWS’s chosen developer – show the site is made up of landfill.

A spokeswoman for Save Paisley’s Green Space said: “There are very valid concerns that proper procedure has not been followed in allowing trial trenches to be excavated across the entire sports pitches area at the UWS Thornly Park campus.

“The resulting vandalism of the pitches has deprived local residents of the use of an important lifeline well used throughout the current pandemic.

“All parties involved in this are responsible.

“They all had the historic information to hand that clearly showed the imported landfill to the pitches, negating the need for trial trenches.”

She added: “Given that the advice from WOSAS was to be a condition of consent, it appears to be a deliberate act to prematurely destroy the pitches.”

A spokesman for Renfrewshire Council, however, says the local authority remains of the view that the trial trenches were necessary and has said the pitches will be refurbished.

He added: “The recent digging at UWS Thornly Park campus was for archaeological investigatory works required to be carried out by the applicants for the current planning application for housing on that site, which is still to be determined.

“They did not require permission from the council for these works.

“The work is now complete and the applicants have confirmed they will reinstate the land.”

Daily Record – Paisley