Protesters make stand against plans for 179 homes at Paisley university campus

Around a hundred defiant protesters gathered outside Renfrewshire Council’s headquarters to stand against an unpopular proposed housing development.

Save Paisley’s Green Space organised a demonstration on Saturday in opposition to plans for 179 homes at the University of the West of Scotland’s Thornly Park campus.

The proposals – which include bulldozing the sports pitches, disused student accommodation and Robertson Sports Centre – were rejected at council level last year due to them not including any plans for affordable homes.

But a Scottish Government reporter has since signalled their intention to grant the application following an appeal, subject to the applicants and council shaking hands on a section 75 legal agreement.

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Before any planning permission can be granted, the council needs to finalise details of a financial contribution from the developers towards replacement sports pitches and St Andrew’s Academy, as well as agree on the level and type of affordable housing to be provided.

The council has already said developers would need to cough up almost half a million pounds to ensure St Andrew’s could take on more children, according to appeal documents.

Although the development appears to have all but been given the green light, environmental campaigners with colourful placards were still determined to make their voices heard ahead of the local elections in May.

Protesters young and old gathered outside Renfrewshire House in Cotton Street, Paisley, to voice their opposition to housing plans for Thornly Park
(Image: Amber Roberts)

A spokeswoman for Save Paisley’s Green Space said: “We would like to thank all our campaign supporters who turned up in miserable weather on Saturday to voice objections to the unsustainable loss of the limited green space in Paisley South.

“One hundred or so supporters turned up and many more messaged us to say they wanted to come but had prior commitments.

“The climate change emergency is being ignored with the planning department’s persistence in entering this UWS site into the Local Development Plan, as its out- of- town peripheral location will guarantee increased vehicle usage when it is widely acknowledged reducing demand for car travel is key to meeting emission reduction targets.

“The surrounding landscape, including the Braes Country Park, will also be adversely affected with housing fronting right onto Caplethill Road facing the Braes County Park.

“Wildlife, including many protected species, which inhabit the area will suffer disruption and death and there will be severe loss of all native woodland.

“Money paid by the developer will not solve the problems of overcrowding at St Andrew’s Academy.”

The Thornly Park Campus
(Image: Andrew Neil)

Demonstrators were also protesting against an application from developers CALA, Barratt and Bellway Homes to build more than 600 homes on surplus land at Dykebar Hospital, which is currently at an appeal stage with a decision yet to be made.

If the council and the UWS/Miller cannot successfully negotiate a Section 75 agreement for the Thornly Park blueprint, the reporter will then consider whether to refuse the application, grant it without any obligations, or arrange a further procedure such as a hearing to investigate the areas of dispute.

The two parties were given 13 weeks to come to a resolution from November 23 last year, meaning an agreement requires to be reached this month.

UWS/Miller Homes has offered to invest £350,000 in replacement pitches in Seedhill, according to appeal documents.

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Daily Record – Paisley