Page 1

nick wright planning

planning, community engagement & regeneration

Paisley town centre: examining the potential rere-use of vacant upper floor property

Final Report for Renfrewshire Council

December 2008


276 Main Road Elderslie Johnstone PA5 9EF Scotland

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nick wright planning

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planning, community engagement & regeneration

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Chapter 1


page 2

Background Report structure Brief and study area Approach Comparisons with the 2000 study

Chapter 2

Housing market review

page 5

Introduction Market overview: spring 2008 Market update: autumn 2008 Owner occupied market Private rented market Housing Associations Renfrewshire Council Key points

Chapter 3

Building use and condition survey

page 13

Approach Key points

Chapter 4

Vacant property assessments

page 19

Approach Site visits (including summary of each visit) Intelligence from owners and agents

Chapter 5

Key sites

page 27

Introduction Site 1: Causeyside Street / Canal Street Site 2: Causeyside Street / Browns Lane Site 3: High Street / Orr Square Key points

Chapter 6


page 38

Introduction A: Grant assistance for enabling works B: Condition surveys and site assembly C: Compliance with regulatory frameworks D: Working in partnership with the private sector E: Demonstration project Action plan and conclusions

Appendices (bound separately)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Building use and condition survey results Maps of vacancies and gap sites Letter/questionnaire to owners/agents of vacant properties List of vacant properties and site visits Photographs of vacancies and gap sites Proposals from site visits to vacant properties identified in Chapter 4 Gross Development Values for key sites identified in Chapter 5




Background 1.1

This is the draft final report of an examination of the potential re-use of upper floor property in Paisley town centre, combined with a survey of the use and external condition of all property within the town centre.


The report also refers to additional work undertaken as an extension to the original brief, which contains outline costed proposals for three specific groups of properties within the town centre (on Causeyside Street and the High Street). This additional work is the focus of chapter 5.


This work has been commissioned by Renfrewshire Council in support of its wider objective of regenerating Paisley town centre. It has been undertaken by a team of consultants led by Nick Wright Planning (planning and overall project management) with J & E Shepherd (surveying), Collective Architecture (architectural advice) and Willie Miller Urban Design (mapping and urban design).


A similar study was previously undertaken for the Council, Scottish Homes and the then Renfrewshire Enterprise in 2000 by Halcrow and Anderson Christie. This 2008 study is an updating of that previous study. We have attempted to make the results directly comparable wherever possible.

Report structure 1.5

The structure of this report is as follows: •

This chapter explains the background to the work, the requirements of the brief and the study area.

Chapter 2 contains a review of the various sectors of the housing market as it was in spring 2008 together with an update on the market in autumn 2008.

Chapter 3 contains surveys of the use and external condition of all properties in the town centre study area.

Chapter 4 contains a more detailed assessment of the potential for the re-use or conversion of vacant upper floors to residential use, including the results of a number of site visits to vacant properties.

Chapter 5 contains outline costed proposals for three specific groups of properties – which we have termed key sites – within the town centre (on Causeyside Street and the


High Street) which we investigated in greater depth, in an extension to the original brief. •

Chapter 6 contains our conclusions and recommendations to progress implementation of the physical proposals contained in chapters 4 and 5.

Brief and study area 1.6


The aims of the study are to: •

Quantify the extent of under-use of properties above commercial properties in the town centre.

Examine their potential for re-use, with a particular focus on residential use.

The Council is also keen to obtain: •

A picture of current housing market conditions in the town centre.

The pattern of use and condition of buildings.

A greater understanding of developers’ and owners’ intentions for investment in vacant property.


The extent of the study area is shown in the plan overleaf. As the plan shows, the study area has been extended north of the main railway line to include the northernmost part of Moss Street and the southern frontage of Old Sneddon Street. This reflects the town centre nature of the property uses in these areas.


We are aware that the commission does not sit in isolation, but is part of a concerted action plan for residentially-led revitalisation of Paisley town centre which encompasses £50 million of investment over a 10 year period. Whilst substantial investment is anticipated to come from the private sector, the Paisley Vision Board’s action plan still calls for around £10 million of public sector investment. Correct targeting of that investment is critical.


This commission forms one of the building blocks for the Council to plan how that investment should be targeted. We understand that good quality research and analysis are essential if the 10 year investment plans are to achieve their goal. In other words, we fully accept the responsibility that falls on us and our contribution towards the regeneration of the town centre.

Approach 1.11

Our approach has incorporated the three areas of work identified in the Council’s brief: •

An assessment of the local housing market. This is covered in more detail in chapter 2.

A technical survey of the use and external condition of all properties in the town centre (see chapter 3), together with more detailed assessment of the potential for the re-use or conversion of vacant upper floors to residential use (see chapter 4).

An attitude survey of owners of vacant property or their agents to establish their intentions, willingness to redevelop or dispose of the property, and any issues which prevent or delay bringing the property back into re-use (see chapter 4).




More detailed information about the approach used for each of these component parts of the study is contained in the relevant chapters.


The base research for the study was carried out between January and March 2008. In an extension to the original commission, proposals for three key sites were prepared in summer 2008.


As explained in section 1.3, this study updates a previous similar piece of work undertaken in 2000. In order to make the results of the two studies as comparable as possible, we have followed closely the approach that was used in 2000. The intention is that the Council will be able to chart change over time. We would however warn that direct comparisons may be misleading (see paragraph 1.16 below).


Our anticipated 10 week programme for the study has proved to be optimistic. This programme assumed a similar level of vacancies to 2000; this assumption proved to be incorrect, as will become clear in this report. A greater number of vacancies than anticipated meant that the amount of work involved in contacting owners and agents has been considerably more than expected. This additional work has been absorbed by the consultant, with assistance from Council officers in agreeing that the internal technical surveys should focus on those upper floor properties with real potential for residential conversion (similar to the 2000 study).

Comparisons with the 2000 study 1.16

There is a risk of undertaking direct quantitative comparison between the 2000 and 2008 studies. Whilst some of the data in this report may appear directly comparable (for example, use and condition of individual properties), decisions about how to categorise property use and condition are to an extent subjective.


Two examples will help to illustrate this:



The 2000 report does not explain how uses such as amusement arcades and betting shops were allocated between categories like leisure, culture, shops and offices. Although we have used the same categories, we have no way of knowing whether we have allocated uses to these categories in the same way as in 2000. This is because we have no record of whether common uses like betting shops, travel agents and hairdressers were categorised as office/commercial or shops. It would therefore be dangerous to say, for example, that the number of premises in the residential category increased or decreased by a certain percentage.


We have used a scoring system of 1 to 5 used for external building condition, as in 2000. As the assessment of condition is a subjective one on the part of the person undertaking the survey, it would again be dangerous to draw numerical comparisons between 2000 and 2008.

In case the Council decides to undertaken a similar study again in a few years’ time, we have attempted to provide sufficient clarity on our approach throughout this report for comparisons to be made more easily with this report in the future.



Housing market review

Introduction 2.1

This chapter looks at the housing market within the study area, with a particular emphasis on issues which are likely to influence the potential for conversion of vacant upper floor properties to residential use.


This chapter was prepared in spring 2008 as part of our original commission. An updated market commentary has been provided as part of the additional work on key sites which we undertook in summer 2008; this can be found in Chapter 5.


The information in this chapter has been based on the professional surveying experience within the team combined with a series of consultations with property professionals, letting agents, the two Housing Associations operating around the town centre, and the Council’s Housing and Property Services Department.


The chapter begins with a brief overview of the market, and then looks at each form of tenure in more detail. This structure follows that of the similar chapter in the 2000 study, for ease of comparison.

Market overview: spring 2008 2.5

House prices have risen dramatically since 2002 throughout Scotland. Most recent data shows that the market may be cooling on the back of recent interest rate rises and accessing the markets has become increasingly difficult for prospective first time buyers. House prices picked up sharply towards the end of 2006 and accelerated through 2007. This momentum appears to be slowing and it is now becoming clear that house price growth peaked around June 2007. Since then, most areas have seen the pace of growth slow. Increases in interest rates and growing affordability pressures have had their effect. The key driver behind demand growth at the beginning of the decade was the decline in the cost of credit.


House prices in Scotland rose by 2.4% in the last three months of 2007 compared to a fall of 0.8% in England. The relative affordability of properties in Scottish towns and cities has helped to sustain growth. Prices in Scotland rose by an average of approximately 13% in 2007 and a slowdown to 4% growth is predicted for 2008.


Paisley house prices sit below the Scottish average and as a consequence, price growth could be greater than the predicted average if further interest rate cuts follow.


Market update: autumn 2008 2.8

Paragraphs 2.9 to 2.14 contain a commentary from J & S Shepherd on the property market relative to the three key sites which formed an extension to the original commission (see chapter 5). The updated market commentary was prepared in September 2008.


On considering all three sites, we are of the opinion that the proposed developments would undoubtedly improve the overall town centre locations, although the residential market at present is experiencing difficult times with a lack of finance, mortgage products and confidence with the market place. The majority of mainstream lenders are restricting lending on residential flatted projects and to this end, should the subjects be placed on the open market “For Sale”, demand would be extremely limited at present.


The Scottish residential market is stalling, more so within the West Coast of Scotland but in general, stock levels have risen sharply with some estate agencies unwilling to take on any new properties. Values in general are having to be reduced in order to achieve a sale. The Housebuilders Forum for July reported a negative figure which, in principle, means that there were more cancellations than reservations within the new build sector.


Whilst properties are still selling, most are taking a longer period of time and expectations of achievable prices are not in all cases being met. As a result, developers are offering a range of incentives and a number of “fixed price properties” are being marketed and it is commonplace for deals to be concluded under the “fixed price”.


The new build market in and around major cities within Britain is being closely monitored by all major High Street lenders at present. Due to the current market and previously over inflated asking prices, lenders are taking a more cautious approach when it comes to lending on new build properties, particularly flats.


Residential surveyors and valuers have also received new guidance from The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) advising on the appropriate method to value new build properties. Greater importance has therefore been placed on using second-hand re-sales of comparable new property, rather than just looking at current sales within the development. The “new build premium” in essence must be disregarded.


In and around Paisley, new flatted developments are proving slow to sell and incentives within the market place are now common. Incentives can range from fitted floor coverings, guaranteed rental income over a 2 year period, mortgage subsidies and cash back deals.


The remainder of this chapter refers to research and consultations undertaken in spring 2008.

Overview of Paisley town centre 2.16

The housing stock within the study area ranges from rundown tenement flats with values of £30,000-£40,000 to upmarket conversions and new builds in Oakshaw Conservation area.


Most of the residential properties within Paisley town centre are terraced tenement flats, some combined with commercial premises at ground floor level and offices. The majority of the housing stock dates to the turn of the century. Many new housing stock additions have


been concentrated within the Oakshaw Conservation area, but there have been a number of other developments in the town centre as noted in the following two paragraphs. 2.18

In 2006, the former Auction House at Orchard Street was demolished and replaced with modern flats by Waterside Developments Limited with prices ranging from £95,000 for a one bedroomed flat to £125,000 for a two bedroomed flat. Also in 2006, Cluny Properties Limited converted the former girl’s home at Weighhouse Close, a Grade II Listed building, into one and two bedroomed flats with prices ranging from £126,000 for a one bedroomed flat to £225,000 for a two bedroomed flat.


A new development recently carried out within Paisley town centre was at The Terrace Building at High Street in Paisley just off Paisley Cross, where the upper floors were converted into four one bedroomed flats, selling at £85,000 for a one bedroomed flat and £125,000 for a two bedroomed flat.


Some of the housing stock within the study area, particularly at Gordon Street, Orchard Street and Incle Street, has deteriorated to such an extent that the properties are no longer considered as suitable security for mortgage purposes. As noted in paragraph 2.47, the Council is taking proactive action to address these issues such as through the designation of Housing Action Areas.


The main factors which affect sale or rental values within the study area are as follows: •


Supply and demand

Size and condition

Whether the buildings are factored/managed

Proximity to nuisance neighbours (public houses, hot food takeaways and nightclubs)

Owner occupied market 2.22

Buoyant conditions over the past years have resulted in few flats currently being available for sale within the town centre study area. Prices within the first time buyers sector have been pushed up by pressure from the Buy to Let sector.


The flat types which command strong prices are those where the buildings have benefited from fabric repair programmes and refurbishment schemes.


Some lenders will not provide mortgage finance where there is a commercial user at ground floor level, particularly if it is a public house or hot food takeaway. With the smoking ban now in force, flats above pubs are now less attractive to purchasers, due to the general nuisance caused by smokers congregating outside.


The sector of the housing market which has slowed the most is large new build developments, where a range of incentives are now being offered by most developers. Most lenders are now tightening their lending criteria for this sector and are less likely to be willing to lend in excess of an 80% loan to value ratio on new build developments.


Values 2.26

An analysis has been made of sale prices within the study area over the past two years. The results are as follows: Street Causeyside Street Forbes Place Gauze Street George Street Gilmour Street Gordon Street High Street Incle Street Lawn Street Moss Street New Street Oakshaw Street East Orchard Street Orr Square School Wynd Silk Street Smithhills Street Townhead Terrace


Average price

Residential sales

£ 72,316 £ 84,085 £ 79,500 £ 55,986 £ 50,000 £ 51,163 £ 69,562 £ 24,932 £ 62,000 £ 63,167 £ 49,400 £ 128,897 £ 68,484 £ 152,733 £ 70,950 £ 60,000 £ 44,375 £ 82,632

46 12 2 35 1 16 8 11 2 6 10 19 16 12 8 1 8 14

For ease of reference, the same data is ranked in the table below according to average price. NB: please note that sample sizes for some individual streets are too small for reliable comparison (particularly Gauze Street, Lawn Street, Gilmour Street and Silk Street): Street Orr Square Oakshaw Street East Forbes Place Townhead Terrace Gauze Street Causeyside Street School Wynd High Street Orchard Street Moss Street Lawn Street Silk Street George Street Gordon Street

Average price

Residential sales

£ 152,733 £ 128,897 £ 84,085 £ 82,632 £ 79,500 £ 72,316 £ 70,950 £ 69,562 £ 68,484 £ 63,167 £ 62,000 £ 60,000 £ 55,986 £ 51,163

12 19 12 14 2 46 8 8 16 6 2 1 35 16


Gilmour Street New Street Smithhills Street Incle Street 2.28

£ 50,000 £ 49,400 £ 44,375 £ 24,932

1 10 8 11

The highest prices are being achieved within the Oakshaw Conservation Area, together with new building and conversion properties. This is mainly due to the location and quality of accommodation provided.

Private rented market 2.29

The fluctuation of the stock market over recent years and availability of funds from Banks and Building Societies for the private Buy to Let market has greatly increased the number of flats within this sector. Within the town centre, it is estimated that the percentage of flats in this sector amounts to approximately 50%. Demand for student accommodation at the University of the West of Scotland helps to keep this market buoyant.


While rentals in general have remained strong, the relatively low prices at which flats in the town centre can be purchased in comparison to Glasgow and other areas has provided attractive returns for investors with demand coming from not only Scotland, but the English and Irish markets. The willingness of lenders to continue to provide funding for this sector will affect demand.


Current rental prices in Paisley town centre are as follows: 1 bedroomed tenement flat 2 bedroomed tenement flat 3 bedroomed tenement flat 1 bedroomed modern flat 2 bedroomed modern flat

£325 - £375 per calendar month £400 - £450 per calendar month £500 - £600 per calendar month £400 - £450 per calendar month £450 - £550 per calendar month

Housing Association rented sector 2.32

Two Housing Associations are active on the fringes of the town centre: Williamsburgh Housing Association and Paisley South Housing Association. The two Housing Associations have distinct, albeit informal, geographical areas of operation in the town. They co-ordinate their efforts to avoid duplication.


Williamsburgh Housing Association has traditionally focussed on the areas east, north and west of the town centre. The Housing Association does not manage any properties within the study area. They have in the past considered individual gap site developments or refurbishments on the northern fringes of the town centre, including Silk Street, Lawn Street, Incle Street, Old Sneddon Street, Brick Lane and Moss Street. None of these sites have ever been taken forward. This is due to a combination of individual site-specific issues and, more generally, the priorities placed by the Housing Association on addressing Below Tolerable Standard properties and the main routes into the town centre, rather than the town centre itself.



The cost of acquisition of town centre property continues to make viability of conversions problematic, and the Housing Association would not wish to develop property that is not in its ownership (as stated in the 2000 report, paragraph 2.6.3). The only exception to this would be work undertaken on behalf of owners through the tenemental improvement programme, where factoring would also be undertaken on behalf of the owners. Williamsburgh did however emphasise that it has a very limited budget for grants of this sort to owners.


Paisley South Housing Association’s activity around the town centre focuses on the areas to the west and south. The Housing Association has in the past undertaken schemes for student accommodation around George Street (outwith the study area) with sporadic investment around Causeyside Street.


Within the study area, Paisley South is just completing a tenemental refurbishment scheme on consolidated ownership at Johnston Street. A similar tenemental refurbishment scheme on Gordon Street is currently going out to tender for a building contractor. Orchard Street is likely to be an area of future interest for a similar scheme.


In terms of the demand that Housing Associations are experiencing, older people are becoming less keen on tenemental living; they now generally prefer to have their own front door (e.g. cottage flats or houses) rather than a shared close. Additional markets which have emerged in recent years include: •

Section 5 referrals for homeless people.

Single men in their 40s and 50s (typically, physically mobile but perhaps with a sickness allowance, and needing an extra bedroom for children).

Eastern European students and construction workers, with some people from black and ethnic minorities.

Some enquiries from students, but it is unclear how many of these translate into housing.


Overall, the picture is increasing demand for houses rather than flats.


In terms of future involvement in the town centre, both Housing Associations are interested in progressing schemes - but delivery needs public investment. Small-scale developments are not the most attractive projects for Housing Associations in the context of the general move towards larger-scale Associations.


The Associations feel that it will become more difficult to obtain grants from the Scottish Government for smaller tenemental improvement schemes, as HAG funding moves towards demolitions and cleared sites. Linking different smaller developments may be one response to this situation, but this could have practical difficulties. In addition, financing the acquisition of sites is still very problematic unless values are absolutely rock-bottom.


Both Associations believed that they could potentially have a role in providing affordable housing in bigger town centre redevelopment schemes through Homestake or provision of rented property. The nature of such affordable provision should reflect the need to respond to demand by providing houses rather than flats where possible. (The Associations did note that working with large number of commercial owners is not a particularly proposition for them due to its complexities.)


Renfrewshire Council 2.42

The Council’s main role in relation to housing in the town centre is as the strategic housing authority. It is responsible for preparation of the Renfrewshire Local Housing Strategy (LHS), and the associated Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP). The Council also works with local Housing Associations in implementing both the LHS and the SHIP.


The Strategic Housing Investment Plan covers the period 2008/09 to 2012/13, and is the first such document. It is intended to is to identify where public subsidy is needed to address pressures and problems within local housing markets, with a particular focus on the supply of affordable housing. The SHIP does not include investment in existing council and housing association stock. Amongst its priorities, however, is the comprehensive improvement of strategically located pre-1919 tenements in Paisley town centre, including the Gordon Street Housing Action Area. The SHIP therefore provides a favourable context for registered social landlords to receive grants for Comprehensive Tenement Improvement schemes in the town centre.


Renfrewshire Council does not manage any residential housing stock within the town centre study area. In the past, a number of properties have been acquired through the tenemental programme but these are generally sold off once refurbished.


The Council’s main involvement in housing provision within the town centre has been through an enabling role for Housing Associations and private owners, for example through bringing forward Housing Action Areas for tenemental refurbishment (as is currently being undertaken in Gordon Street) and for demolition (such as at Incle Street).


The emphasis for the limited Council budget continues to be on improvement of substandard (“Below Tolerable Standard”) residential properties rather than conversion of non-residential properties, as was stated in the previous report in 2000. In terms of upgrading substandard properties, the Scottish Government now places the onus for residential property renewal onto owners of properties, although the Council is aware that for properties with multiple tenures the Council may have a role in providing grant assistance for renewal.


The Council is aware that there are still many substandard properties requiring significant investment in the study area, such as those currently being tackled with Housing Associations through the Housing Action Area proposals in Gordon Street. Council officers have indicated that they would also be keen to progress Council involvement in any conversion projects in the town centre in an enabling capacity or using statutory powers as necessary.

Key points 2.48

Although the growth in Scottish house prices that has been witnessed in recent years appeared to peak during 2007, Paisley house prices are below average and could therefore grow faster than the predicted average if further interest rate cuts follow. This will not ease the situation for prospective first time buyers, who find it increasingly difficult to access the housing market. Pressure from the Buy to Let sector has exacerbated this problem.


The housing stock within the study area ranges from rundown tenement flats to upmarket conversions and new builds. Prices are highest in Oakshaw Conservation Area, together with newly built and converted properties.



In some areas (particularly Gordon Street, Orchard Street and Incle Street) property has deteriorated to such an extent that it is no longer considered as suitable mortgage security. Also, some lenders will not provide mortgage finance where there is a pub or takeaway at ground floor level, particularly with the smoking ban.


The private rented market is strong, with investor interest from across the UK and Ireland – but this may be adversely affected if lenders become less willing to provide funding.


Housing Association development work in the town centre is currently limited to the southern part of the study area (Johnston Street and Gordon Street, possibly extending to Orchard Street). The Housing Associations note that demand is increasingly for houses rather than flats, reflecting a shift in the nature of tenants. The Associations also raise concerns about their future ability to deliver schemes in the town centre – especially for improvement schemes – given the increasing difficulty of obtaining funding for smaller schemes.



Building use and condition survey

Approach 3.1

The purpose of this part of the commission was a basic survey of buildings within the town centre, as defined on the plan on page 4. The basis of the survey was the address list used in the 2000 study, with very minor amendments to reflect subsequent physical changes to the town centre. Each property was assessed externally to establish both its use and basic condition, using similar criteria to the 2000 study.


In terms of use of buildings, we have followed the format used in 2000 as closely as possible. This is to maximise the ability to chart changing patterns of use between 2000 and 2008. Each floor of every building was categorised into one of the following groups:


Gap site


Retail, hairdressing

Hot food, cafes, restaurants, pubs

Office, business, betting shop




Cultural, religion

Commercial leisure

Other (e.g. railway station, pend)

Under construction

In terms of external condition of buildings, we have followed the format used in 2000, again to maximise the opportunity for comparison. The condition of the roof, walls, drainage and external timberwork of each property was ranked, as far as could be established from streetlevel external examination, using a scale of 1 to 5: 1 2 3 4 5





The results of the survey are contained in tabular form in Appendix 1, with vacant properties and gap sites highlighted in colour. These are cross-referenced to the sequence of detailed plans in Appendix 2, which show the location of all vacant properties or gap sites.

Key points 3.5

In terms of use, most properties in the town centre comprise commercial or retail uses on the ground floor with two or three floors of residential or office use above. This has remained largely unchanged since 2000. The main exceptions to this generalisation are: •

The Paisley Centre and the Piazza are both covered shopping malls. The Piazza has two substantial office blocks above.

Townhead Terrace, Orchard Street and Gordon Street are predominantly residential from the ground floor up.

Silk Street, Shuttle Street and parts of Gordon Street are generally two storeys, often with little residential use; there are also isolated buildings on the High Street and Causeyside Street which are two storeys.

Marshalls Lane, Browns Lane and Weighhouse Close are typical “back lanes” with limited frontage development, generally of lower height and more orientated towards yard space, workshops and storage.


Overall, the number of vacant premises appears to have increased significantly since 2000 – up from 20 in 2000 to 77 in 2008 for the same area (see paragraph 4.5 for more information).


The following paragraphs summarise building condition, use and vacancy rates in different parts of the town centre. (Full A4 versions of the thumbnail plans can be found in Appendix 2.) Blocks 1-3 – Silk Street area Change since 2000 – Vacancies: slight increase. Condition: similar. Description – A varied mix of offices, off-centre retail and pubs, with some residential uses on the upper floors. Commentary – Although the number of vacancies has increased slightly since 2000, there are still relatively few. Little change in the pattern of use since 2000, except some new-build residential on Gauze Street. Taken overall, the external condition of buildings is generally acceptable, and seems to be similar to 2000. Block 4 – Arnotts Change since 2000 – Vacancies: marked increase. Condition: markedly worse. Description – Dominated by the vacant buildings of the former Arnotts and its associated car parking areas, this block also contains other vacant/derelict land and dilapidated tenements on Incle Street. Commentary –The amount of vacancy, dereliction and dilapidation has increased markedly since 2000, mainly (but not solely) brought about by the closure of Arnotts. The condition of buildings appears generally to have deteriorated slightly.


Block 5 – The Piazza area Change since 2000 – unknown (not included in 2000 study). Description – This varied block is dominated by the shops and offices of The Piazza, Gilmour House and One Smithhills Street. Commentary –Although levels of retail vacancies within The Piazza were not recorded in 2000, anecdotal evidence shows that there were then far more vacant shop units than the four recorded in 2008. Of the two substantial office blocks (the biggest commercial office spaces in the town centre), Gilmour House was substantially vacant. At a different scale, there are high vacancy levels in the units fronting onto Old Sneddon Street underneath the railway station (these were not included in the 2000 study, so no comparison is available).

Blocks 6, 7 & 8 – Forbes Place area Change since 2000 – Vacancies: increased. Condition: similar. Description – Includes part of east side of Causeyside Street. Commentary – Relatively low levels of vacancies, although higher than in 2000. Both of the two buildings which are entirely vacant have planning consent for redevelopment or conversion. The external condition of buildings is variable but seems to be similar to 2000.

Blocks 9 & 10 – Gordon Street area Change since 2000 – Vacancies: slightly increased. Condition: similar. Description – Like the other blocks south of George Street/Orchard Street (Blocks 11-14), these blocks are mainly residential use above retail, except the eastern end of Gordon Street which has a mix of uses in different buildings. Commentary – Slight increases in ground floor vacancy rates around the junction of Causeyside Street and Gordon Street. As in 2000, the tenemental stock on Gordon Street is not in the best condition, but occupancy remains high.

Blocks 11 & 12 – Johnston Street area Change since 2000 – Vacancies: slightly increased. Condition: improved. Description – Includes part of east side of Causeyside Street. Like the other blocks south of George Street/Orchard Street (Blocks 9, 10, 13 & 14), these blocks are mainly residential use above retail. Commentary – The three traditional small shop units on the south side of Johnstone Street are currently all vacant (all were recorded as in use in 2000). Otherwise, low levels of vacancies. Building condition generally better than 2000, buoyed up by new residential flats on Orchard Street and recently refurbished flats on Johnston Street by Paisley South Housing Association.


Blocks 13 & 14 – Canal Street area Change since 2000 – Vacancies: similar. Condition: similar. Description – Includes part of west side of Causeyside Street. Like the other blocks south of George Street/Orchard Street (Blocks 9-12), these blocks are mainly residential use above retail. Commentary – Low levels of vacancy as in 2000 (although a different building), and similar levels of external condition (generally average).

Blocks 15-17 – George Street and Shuttle Street area Change since 2000 – Vacancies: similar. Condition: similar. Description – Includes part of west side of Causeyside Street. George Street has a mix of uses including entire residential buildings, Shuttle Street is focussed on bars and restaurants, whilst Causeyside Street is a mix of retail and commercial with some residential above. Commentary – Vacancy rates generally remain low as in 2000, although there are two redevelopment sites at the northern end of Shuttle Street. There is a great variety of buildings, generally in average condition as in 2000 – although there is a cluster of buildings in poor condition on the west side of Causeyside Street, focussed on no.44.

Blocks 18-18a – around the Paisley Centre & St Mirren Street Change since 2000 – Vacancies: increased. Condition: possibly slightly worse. Description – Together with the Piazza (Block 5) and Block 23 (the north side of the main High Street pitch), these Blocks contain the town centre’s main shopping pitches. Residential uses are concentrated on New Street. Commentary – Non-residential vacancy rates have increased since 2000, the most prominent being the former Littlewoods store, but with a small number of other less prominent ground and upper floor units now vacant on each street. Although no data is available for vacancies in the Paisley Centre in 2000, there is undoubtedly now a higher number of vacant retail units (11 of 46 units at the time of the survey, plus 10 vacant InShops units). External condition of buildings remains generally average, but may have deteriorated slightly since 2000.

Blocks 19-20 – Paisley Cross to Old Sneddon Street Change since 2000 – Vacancies: similar. Condition: similar. Description – Dominated by retail and commercial uses, with no residential use at all. Commentary – The study area has been extended to include the south side of Old Sneddon Street, which suffers from a relatively high level of empty units. Elsewhere the level of vacancy is low – with the persistent exception of the upper floors at County Place. Overall, building condition appears to be largely similar to 2000; the condition of the buildings at County Place remains poor.


Blocks 21-22 – west side of Moss Street Change since 2000 – Vacancies: similar. Condition: similar. Description – A mixture of retail/commercial below and largely residential above, Moss Street has a concentration of poorer quality buildings and vacant property between School Wynd and County Place. Commentary – Although one property has been brought back into use since 2000, more have become vacant. The poor condition of nos. 13, 23 and 25 Moss Street is particularly prominent.

Block 23 – north side of High Street (east of New Street) & School Wynd Change since 2000 – Vacancies: worse. Condition: worse. Description – A range of fine buildings on the North side of the High Street, with commercial uses dominating. Dense development to the rear of main frontages. Commentary – The north side of the High Street’s main shopping pitch (and its continuation to the west in Block 24) suffers from high rates of vacancies, on ground and upper floors. The position has deteriorated significantly since 2000. Upper floors in use have a mix of residential and commercial (in contrast to the south side of this part of the High Street which has very little residential use, Blocks 18-18a). The external condition of High Street buildings has perhaps worsened slightly since 2000. School Wynd has more residential use, few vacancies and generally satisfactory external condition.

Blocks 24-25 – north side of High Street (west of Church Hill) Change since 2000 – Vacancies: worse. Condition: worse. Description – There is no residential use along the High Street frontage. (In contrast, the area to the rear - Orr Square and Church Hill – has seen a number of successful conversion and new-build schemes in recent years.) Commentary – Like the west side of Moss Street, the north side of High Street between Church Hill and the Library/Museum suffers from dilapidation and prominent vacancies. Although there are some persistently problematic buildings (such as 44 High Street), both condition and vacancy rates have worsened since 2000.

Blocks 26-27 – west end of High Street & Townhead Terrace Change since 2000 – Vacancies: improved. Condition: worse. Description – The pattern of use remains the same – largely tenemental properties, with retail/commercial ground floors on High Street and Storie Street. Commentary – This is the one part of the study area where vacancy rates have improved since 2000 – there were no vacancies at the time of the study. External condition is generally acceptable.


Blocks 28-30 – south side of High Street (west of New Street) Change since 2000 – Vacancies: similar. Condition: similar. Description – Largely commercial/retail ground floors with residential above, although some buildings on High Street are entirely in office/commercial use. Weighhouse Close is dominated by car parking and yards, with little frontage development – the main exception being the high quality restoration and conversion of the listed building (Mrs Archibald Coates) on the corner. Commentary – Vacancy rates are low, although there are a number of gap sites. Building condition is generally average, and similar to 2000.



In terms of levels of vacancies, the situation is generally worse than 2000. Although the general downward trend can be seen throughout the town centre, the deterioration is most marked on the west side of Moss Street (Blocks 21-22), the north side of the High Street (Block 23), and the street block containing the former Arnotts store (Block 4): •

West side of Moss Street: nos. 13, 23 and 25 Moss Street are particularly prominent. We understand that an architect is preparing proposals for the rehabilitation/redevelopment of no.13 Moss Street, an existing building which is in a poor condition; the Council may wish to contact the owners directly to ascertain progress and establish if any support can is required. No.23 is a gap site and is therefore beyond the scope of this study. It does however offer redevelopment potential, if possible in combination with no.25 (a former tenemental block which has been demolished down to ground floor level; the ground floor is in use as a commercial unit). The Council may wish to approach the owner to establish whether any support is required, including the possibility of CPO if there are land assembly issues.

North side of the High Street: there are a number of vacant units here, although it should be emphasised that the condition of the built fabric is not as poor as on the west side of Moss Street. Outline feasibility has been considered for two particular critical properties, at nos. 20 and 22 High Street (see paragraphs 4.27-4.38 below).

Arnotts, Gauze Street: the future of this important block is being considered directly by the Council in conjunction with its owners.

In terms of external condition, the 2000 report stated that “the building condition of the central area of Paisley is moderate to poor in the main” (paragraph 3.4.1 of that report). This remains true in 2008. Looking at the figures overall, there may have been a very slight downward trend in external condition; this conclusion is however potentially misleading, as the 2000/2008 assessments are subjective and have been made by different people (see paragraphs 1.14 and 1.16).



Vacant property assessment

Approach 4.1

The assessment of vacant property involved a number of stages: 1. Identifying vacant premises (undertaken as part of the building use and condition survey described in chapter 3). 2. Identifying the owners of vacant premises or their agents. 3. Making contact with owners/agents, initially via a letter and questionnaire. 4. Visiting as many vacant upper floor premises as possible, with a view to establishing the feasibility/potential for residential conversion.


The second of these four stages, identifying owners and agents, involved various lines of enquiry (face-to-face, telephone and web): •

Agents, if the property is on the market.

Valuation roll – now rather dated as it was last revised in 2005, and many ownerships have changed since then.

Occupants of premises within the same or adjoining buildings.

Former occupants.


The third stage involved sending a letter and questionnaire was sent to each owner or agent who had been identified. Appendix 3 contains a typical letter; these letters were often tailored for individual properties to increase the likelihood of getting a response.


There was a low level of response to this mailout: of the 85 letters/questionnaires dispatched, we received only 13 written responses (7 completed questionnaires and 6 letters). Given this low response rate, the information that could be derived from the questionnaires was of little value for the study: it was far short of what was required to build up a meaningful body of evidence. The poor response rate also meant that the letter/questionnaire was not particularly effective as a means of arranging visits: considerable effort had to be expended to trace, contact and follow-up owners/agents by telephone to discuss their intentions and request site visits. If the study was to be repeated, we would recommend dispensing with the questionnaires, and instead using the letters simply as letters of introduction quickly followed up with telephone calls.


A few words about the increase in numbers of vacant properties since 2000. Letters and questionnaires were sent out regarding 20 vacant properties in 2000. In 2008, the number had increased to 85 (excluding retail units in the Piazza and Paisley Centre). A small part of


this increase (8 properties) can be attributed to the extension of the study area to include Old Sneddon Street. But even discounting these eight, there has still been an apparent increase from 20 to 77 vacant units between 2000 and 2008, assuming that both surveys were undertaken accurately and on the same basis. 4.6

Following external inspections, 24 of the 85 vacant properties were identified as possibly having potential for residential conversion. The remainder were regarded as being inappropriate for residential use for one or more of a number of reasons (see Appendix 4): •

Ground floor vacant units on a main shopping or commercial pitch.

Directly beneath railway lines at Paisley Gilmour Street station.

Basement location.

Redevelopment plans are already well-advanced (e.g. the owner has already engaged architects or gained planning consent).


Between March and May 2008, determined efforts were made to arrange access to each of the 19 properties identified as being appropriate for residential conversion. The lead consultant telephoned (and also emailed if necessary) owners and leaseholders to explain the project, the likely benefits to them of getting involved, and the fact that it would not commit them to anything.


Nineteen properties were identified as worthy of visiting. Appendix 4 gives details of each of the 19 properties. Appendix 5 contains photographs of each property.

Site visits 4.9

The fourth stage of the vacant property assessment, site visits, took place over three separate dates during March and May 2008. We were able to gain access to ten of these nineteen properties. This part of the study has proved very worthwhile, yielding useful information which enables us to provide the Council with independent assessments of the potential for conversion of vacant upper floor properties to residential purposes.


The ten properties visited are shown on the map overleaf. They were: •

44 Causeyside Street (above Your Move)

2 County Place (above R S McColl)

21 Forbes Place (above Clydesdale Bank)

20 High Street (above former Rangers shop)

22 High Street (above Priceless Shoes)

29 High Street (above Millets)

40 High Street (above Perfect Chicken)

52 High Street (former Hill House Hammond)

4 Johnston Street (3 ground floor commercial units next to Chinese restaurant)

4-6 Silk Street (above and behind Antica restaurant and vacant land to rear)




Our proposals for each of these properties are contained in Appendix 6. Each property has a separate sheet providing: •

An indication of whether it is realistic to expect that conversion is a feasible option; and, if so, an indication of the likely accommodation that could be accommodated, an indicative cost and how difficult it would be to implement.

If conversion is not thought to be feasible, consideration of the potential for demolition and new-build.

Where appropriate, conceptual images of development potential.


Although our brief specifically excluded undertaking full structural surveys or preparing design options and conceptual drawings, we have taken the view that it is necessary to consider proposals for each site in some detail in order to have certainty about feasibility.


The following paragraphs contain a summary of the proposals in Appendix 6.

44 Causeyside Street 4.14

(Please note that this site also forms part of the larger key site 2, which is the subject of more comprehensive proposals – see Chapter 5.)


Potential for conversion to three 1-2 bedroom flats within the existing shell of the property.


Full details in Appendix 6 Beyond that basic option are a number of other options for redevelopment – such as extending over the rear yard to make larger more attractive flats, to joint schemes incorporating demolition of adjacent FADS store and nightclub (as shown in Appendix 6) or an even larger scheme linking through to Shuttle Street.


With a straightforward conversion for three flats, it will be a struggle to make the cramped rear court attractive and of amenity value to owners/ tenants. A straightforward development at this stage may be premature - if FADS were to move out of adjacent unit and a vacant property arises, it would be better to consider both plots together.


Each successive option generates more income but also involves more ownerships. The owner is keen and proactive, but Council support would help to resolve ownership issues. (The ground floor of the property is, for example, in different ownership.)


See drawings in Appendix 6 for further information.

2-3 County Place 4.20

Potential for conversion to four flats (two 2-bedroom flats on each of the two floors).


A conversion to residential for four flats could be relatively straightforward. However, due to the fact that the second floor is over 7.5m above ground level, there is a requirement for Full details in Appendix 6


ventilated smoke lobbies. The impact of this has been indicated on the proposals in Appendix 6. If a relaxation can be gained, due to the fact that the 7.5m is only just exceeded, then the existing stairs and entrances can be retained. Pre-application discussions with Building Control should clarify whether s relaxation application would be successful. 4.22

The owner expressed interest in developing the attic as a separate flat. Due to the attic floor level being above 10m, the floor would need to be served by a lift. Either this would have to be located within the back court or the existing stairwell would need to be reconfigured. Alternatively, the attic space could be utilised as part of maisonettes with the main living accommodation on the second floor; however, the maisonettes would be very large (4 or 5 bedrooms) and may be unlikely to attract many potential buyers.


See drawings in Appendix 6 for further information.

21 Forbes Place 4.24

Limited potential for conversion to a single penthouse.


This attic floor above Clydesdale Bank and solicitor’s office which offers limited potential for a single high quality penthouse. Further potential is constrained by low headroom, the Bank’s substantial water tank in one part of the attic and the fact that there is only a single access stair.


Full details in Appendix 6

See drawings in Appendix 6 for further information.

20 High Street 4.27

Potential for conversion to 1 ground floor commercial unit, four 1-bedroom flats and two 2-bedroom flats.


Upgrading office to make attractive to tenants would require a new lift to comply with DDA requirements. This is made especially difficult due to level change between ground floor and rear, which would require 8 steps before reaching the stairwell where the lift could be located.

Full details in Appendix 6


Flatted development would also require lift access to comply with building regulations as the top floor is above 10m (10.8m approximately), unless sole access is from rear. This would only be possible with access through gap site at 17 School Wynd.


If converted to flats, it should be permissible for the lift to be accessed via the 8 steps, as the purpose is primarily for amenity as opposed to making the development wheelchair accessible.


A protected lobby is required between the stair and flats as the top floor is above 7.5m. This would require the existing stairwell to be removed, so allowing a new stairwell to be built that would allow room for a lobby.


Unless the rear storage unit is demolished there can be no rear court. This would require to


be agreed with Development Management. A more feasible option would be codevelopment with 22 High Street and 17 School Wynd to allow the opening up of the rear courtyards to provide amenity space and/or parking. The new lift and stair could be shared between 22 and 17 High Street, so reducing costs. The storage of bins is problematic: they may need to be contained in the ground floor close so that they can be accessed by bin men. If rear access is obtained via a rear court, the bins could be stored outside in the courtyard. 4.33

See drawings in Appendix 6 for further information.

22 High Street 4.34

Potential for conversion to 2 ground floor commercial units, two 1-bedroom flats and four 2-bedroom flats.


Conversion will not be attractive unless obsolete steel-framed area to rear of ground and first floors is demolished. The estimated cost of this enabling work is approximately ÂŁ120,000. This figure assumes all demolition work would have to be carried out with limited machinery. If it were possible to use the Full details in Appendix 6 adjacent gap site at 17 School Wynd to allow plant and machine access, the figures could be reduced by approximately 50%. These levels of expenditure are likely to render the scheme unviable. Although a development appraisal was beyond the scope of this commission, it is likely that grant assistance would be required to subsidise at least the majority of these enabling works for the scheme to be viable.


If implemented in tandem with the gap site at 17 School Wynd, there is potential for linking through to School Wynd for rear access and possibly vehicular access. There is potential for 20 High Street to be combined also.


If sole access is from rear, with access via the School Wynd gap site, a lift may not be necessary as top floor would be less that 10m above ground floor level. If access is retained to High Street, a lift would be required. If both 22 and 20 High Street are developed together, a communal access could be shared.


See drawings in Appendix 6 for further information.

29 High Street 4.39

Creation of usable flat unlikely to be viable.


This top floor with dormers is already internally fitted out as a flat – but it has no dedicated street access or internal staircase, and a poor fire escape route. The original common stair has been removed. Creating a usable flat would require the creation of a new entrance in the shop front - which would be prohibitively expensive and unacceptable to the existing business. Similarly, realisation of the flat would require creation Full details in Appendix 6 of a new internal staircase, which would remove space from the shop floor and shop storage, all of which is required for the business.



The cost of creating the flat is unlikely to be viable – quite apart from undermining the viability of the existing retail business.


The adjacent upper floors at 27 High Street (above H Samuel) are also underused. The owner is reluctant to release for residential conversion due to security concerns. Even without this reluctance of the current owner, physically conversion of these upper floors would present a similar problem to no.29 of lack of dedicated street entrance and staircase.


See drawings in Appendix 6 for further information.

40 High Street 4.44

(Please note that this site also forms part of the larger key site 3, which is the subject of more comprehensive proposals contained in Chapter 5.)


Potential for new build for 1 ground floor commercial unit, two 1-bedroom flats and six or seven 2-bedroom flats.


The building is in very poor condition, particularly the upper storeys, and is possibly a fire risk. It was previously used as workshop space.


Access to the vacant upper floors is by ladder from the back yard as the internal stairs between ground and first floors have been removed as part of works to create 2 separate retail units on the ground floor.


The rear court can only be reached through Perfect Chicken and has been land-locked by car park serving flats to rear. It would be Full details in Appendix 6 possible to keep ground and first floor storeys and rebuild above, but the poor architectural value of façade/building means that demolition and new build is the most appropriate solution. A new build could provide 1 retail unit to the ground floor and 2 or 3 x 2 bed, 3 person flats.


See drawings in Appendix 6 for further information.

52 High Street 4.50

Most appropriate for retention in commercial use.


A concrete building, purpose-built as an office. Conversion to residential purposes would require major internal changes, particularly re-arrangement of staircases and additional windows to rear. The design of the building is unsustainable with high running costs. Poor insulation, services and columns all render the building unsuitable for residential use. The flat roof leaking in several places. In terms of townscape, the banal 1960s facade does not merit retention.


Full details in Appendix 6

The site is highly visible as the termination of the view along Storie Street and deserves a more contextually appropriate building. It may be appropriate to retain in commercial use.


However it is not DDA compliant and the heating bills will be very high without internal insulation being installed. It may be more appropriate to demolish and incorporate in newbuild scheme on adjacent ground towards Library and Museum. 4.53

See drawings in Appendix 6 for further information.

4 Johnston Street 4.54

Potential for conversion to one 1-bedroom and one 2-bedroom flats.


Three traditional ground floor commercial units in tenement block, all simultaneously advertised as being for let during the study (although one may now have been let). Over-supply of this sort of commercial property suggests that residential conversion could be considered. This appears to be a sensible way forward in this particular location, and would be technically and aesthetically feasible.

Full details in Appendix 6


Some enabling grant assistance may be required. A similar conversion of commercial units to residential appears to have been undertaken at the corner of Johnstone Street opposite the site. Ramps may be required to meet HVA requirements as there are presently steps up the close entrance.


Although access was not gained during survey, it is likely that the creation of 1 single bedroom flat and 1 2 bedroom flat would be possible. The tenement block appears in need of a general upgrade, which could be included as part of works to convert the units.


See drawings in Appendix 6 for further information.

4-6 Silk Street 4.59

Potential for new-build of 2 ground floor commercial units, five 2-bedroom flats and five 3-bedroom flats.


Potential for infill scheme to rear of existing buildings, possibly demolishing older building to rear and retaining main frontage building at 4 Silk Street. Potential for combining a 3 storey flat development to Silk Street and 3 storey flat development to rear Full details in Appendix 6 if existing buildings are demolished as part of works; 4 storey development may be possible if basement parking is provided in order to provide sufficient parking. A larger scheme such as this is likely to generate sufficient finance to render the scheme as a whole viable.


Upper floors of main frontage building could be converted without infill to rear, but may require public sector intervention to be viable.


Phasing the construction, by developing the gap site (including new restaurant unit to ground floor) prior to demolishing 4 Silk Street to minimise disruption to the existing restaurant, would make the project less viable.



See drawings in Appendix 6 for further information.

Intelligence from owners and agents 4.64

During the process of establishing ownerships and arranging/taking part in site visits, we had many conversations owners, leaseholders and their agents. We would emphasise that the information gathered in this way is purely anecdotal. It does however reveal that there could be benefit in greater dialogue between the Council and the private sector – essentially an opportunity for the Council to explain existing grant availability and this commission, and encourage local businesses to come forward with proposals. Practically, this could be as simple as a facilitated workshop session involving local traders and businesses and relevant Council officers.


For the record, common themes which emerged anecdotally included: •

Landowners and long leaseholders are not necessarily averse to development – but market uncertainties and low returns (even when the market was buoyant) mean they are not rushing to implement schemes.

Concerns that the current state of the market is not conducive to development – although there are different opinions as to whether residential or office development is the better option at the moment.

A perception that the Council could take more practical action to facilitate development in the town centre, or to support regeneration of the town centre in a wider sense.

The need for financial incentives to facilitate development, particularly for conversions of existing properties in the heart of the town centre.

A fear that the planning authority may be overly restrictive when it comes to proposals for demolition and replacement of existing buildings.

Requests for better accessibility into the heart of the town centre, both by bus and car, so that shops are more easily accessible to bus stops and car parks.



Key sites

Introduction 5.1


After discussing the proposals contained in Chapter 4 with the Council, the commission was extended to prepare initial proposals for residentially-led redevelopment of three groups of properties. These groups, referred to as key sites, were selected for a number of reasons: •

They are clusters of properties which are either under-utilised or in particularly poor condition, often with adjacent gap sites.

Redevelopment could significantly improve townscape quality.

Existing owners are not actively preparing development proposals.

Ownership is divided among several parties, and it appears unlikely that redevelopment would progress without some external facilitation such as by the Council.

Physical constraints prevent piecemeal redevelopment of individual component sites – so a more comprehensive approach is needed for redevelopment to proceed.

The three key sites are shown in the plan overleaf. They are as follows: •

Key site 1: Causeyside Street between New Street and Browns Lane

Key site 2: Causeyside Street / Canal Street corner

Key site 3: High Street / Orr Square


In each case, our intention was to establish whether a wider redevelopment scheme could provide benefits in terms of quality of townscape and floorspace provision in the town centre, whilst also being both physically and financially viable.


This chapter contains the proposals for these three key sites. The proposals differ from those for individual sites in Chapter 4 primarily in that they also include a first-cut assessment of financial viability – an indicative rather than full development appraisal, with the aim of providing an indication of the uplift in value and the total cost of the proposals. We would emphasise that these assessments must be treated as indicative because of the outline nature of the design proposals that they are based on.


For each key site, initial discussions have taken place with a number of key agents, owners and leaseholders to assess their appetite for redevelopment. Their aspirations and attitudes towards redevelopment have influenced the development proposals contained in this chapter. None of the owners of any of the sites proposed for redevelopment has expressed any objection to the principle of redevelopment, provided that the details and finances are acceptable to them.



Key site 1: Causeyside Street between New Street and Browns Lane Context 5.6

Key site 1 occupies part of the block defined by Causeyside Street, New Street, Shuttle Street and Browns Lane (see photos overleaf and plans on A3 insert). The main buildings of concern within this block are those which are derelict, underutilised and/or make a negligible contribution to townscape quality. The building at 44 Causeyside Street (ground floor occupied by Your Move) is a particular concern; proposals for that specific site are proposed in paragraphs 4.14 to 4.19.


By considering the redevelopment potential of neighbouring properties around no.44, our intention was to establish whether a wider scheme could help the town centre in terms of townscape quality and floorspace provision.


This block contains a complex pattern of uses, townscape quality and ownerships: Street frontage


Townscape quality


Causeyside Street

Mixed commercial ground floor uses (derelict shop at no. 40 and vacant bar at no.46). Mix of residential, retail storage and nightclub uses on upper floors (derelict at no.44).

Generally low quality with inconsistent storey heights & low architectural merit. Dereliction at no.44 (upper floors) and no. 40 (retail unit). Poor quality at no. 42 (FADS), part of no.38 (single storey element of Dantes) & no.36 (Mr Kebab).

New Street

Pubs/catering on ground and upper floors.

Gap site at Shuttle Street corner.

Browns Lane

No.4 is a vacant bar, no.6 (former ice cream factory) is used for storage. No.8 is a vehicle workshop & yard. Entertainment uses at nos.7-15, religious building at no.5.

Very narrow lane (<4m between building lines), buildings are stone, roughcast or brick and of limited architectural quality. Mixed architectural styles, little of great quality.

Complex. No.36 (Mr Kebab) is owner-occupied. No.38-40 (Dantes, Duffy hairdressing, residential above) have separate owner-occupiers; owner of vacant retail unit unknown. No.42 (FADS) is leased. No.44 separate ownerships for ground & upper floors. No.46 (vacant pub on ground, nightclub above) is a single ownership with 4-8 Browns Lane. Nos.40-42 (Moloko) and no.38 (Imperial Bar) are each leased and have different leaseholds & ownerships. Gap site at Shuttle St is Council-owned. Nos.4-8 are all in single ownership with no.46 Causeyside St.

Shuttle Street

Nos.7-15 are all owneroccupied, various ownerships. No.5 is leasehold.



These oblique aerial images show the site and context: Key site 1 from the east

Key site 1 from the south

Key site 1 from the north

Key site 1 from the west

Images courtesy of Live Search Maps

Proposals for key site 1 5.10

Clearly, the more ownership/leasehold interests that are involved, the more complex the situation becomes, and the greater the risk of failure. This particular group of sites has a number of owners. We have therefore prepared two alternative layouts which provide differing levels of risk and reward.


The proposals are shown in detail on the accompanying A3 plan inserts (overleaf) and are summarised below: â&#x20AC;˘

Option 1: 36/38 & 42/44 Causeyside St + New St / Shuttle St corner This option proposes redevelopment of the Causeyside Street sites on a phased basis. Phase 1 would be demolition and 4 storey new build (6 flats and 2 commercial units) at 36/38 Causeyside Street, and phase 2 would be demolition and 4 storey new build (6 flats and 2 commercial units) at 42/44 Causeyside Street. If only the first phase proceeds, less parking would be required as indicated on the plan in Appendix 7. The proposal relies on the creation of a pend through the existing stone building at no.40, with retention of the existing ground floor hairdresser and first floor residential use in that building. In case there are difficulties obtaining approval from the roads authority for this pend arrangement, we have proposed an alternative layout which brings in 6 Browns Lane (indicated in blue on the plan in Appendix 7) to allow the formation of a vehicular access from Browns Lane. However, as this site is in separate ownership, its inclusion increases


the risk of the proposals foundering. The proposals also include 3 storey new build (12 flats) on the gap site at the corner of New Street and Shuttle Street. The constricted nature and location of this site means that it is impractical to provide parking within the site: given the location of on- and offstreet car parking in the vicinity and the good availability of public transport, we feel there is an argument to be made for providing no parking. •

Option 2: as option 1 + 8 Browns Lane By demolishing the existing garage and yard at 8 Browns Lane and replacing with 3 storey new build (11 flats), more residential accommodation can provided – but at the expense of an existing operating business which has no desire to relocate. Option 2 also demonstrates how the number of flats on the New Street/Shuttle Street gap site could be increased from 12 to 18 by incorporating the New Life Church premises at 5 Shuttle Street.


Both options combine land in different ownerships to facilitate development. This enables the creation of sufficient space for car parking and rear servicing, which would be difficult to achieve if the sites were redeveloped on a site by site basis. It also potentially provides economies of scale to assist with financial viability.


Rehabilitation of the vacant shop unit at 40 Causeyside Street could be included as part of each option, although this is dependent on establishing ownership.


A number of properties have been excluded from both options, on the basis that their inclusion is unnecessary to produce workable proposal, they are already in active and productive use, and they do not detract from the townscape. These properties are 7-15 Shuttle Street, 38-42 New Street, 40 & 46 Causeyside Street and 4 Browns Lane.

Viability for key site 1 5.15

The following paragraphs summarise the financial viability of the development proposals described above. The information has been provided by surveyors J& E Shepherd; a full version can be found in Appendix 7.


Option 1: in arriving at their opinion of Gross Development Value, J&E Shepherd have applied the following range of values to the subjects where adjustments have been made to reflect the size, layout and positioning of the unit within the development. •

One bedroom, two person flat


Two bedroom, three person flats


Two bedroom, four person flats



The total gross developable area of the residential component of the proposals is 1,895.25m2 (see Appendix 7 for breakdown). For indicative valuation purposes, J&E Shepherd have arrived at a total gross development value of the residential accommodation of £1,975,000. In addition, the gross development value of the commercial units is £235,000 (£10.00/ft2 overall at 11%). This gives a total gross development value of £2,210,000.


Option 2 provides additional residential accommodation – a further 17 flats compared to option 1, creating an additional gross development area of 845m2. On applying similar levels


of end values to the properties as in paragraph 5.22 above, J&E Shepherd have arrived at a total gross development value of the additional accommodation on option 2 of £1,325,000. 5.19

The total gross development values and areas for options 1 and 2 together are: Property

Total gross development value

Option 1 Option 2 Total

£2,210,000 £1,325,000 £3,535,000

Total gross developable area 2

1,895.25m 2 845.00m 2 2,740.25m


In the absence of detailed specifications and projected build costs (as anticipated), J&E Shepherd have assumed an overall build cost of £1,100/m2 (which in their opinion accurately reflects current build costs) and a minimum developers profit of 15%.


A very approximate appraisal on a residual basis indicates that the proposed development for key sites 1 is not commercially viable.

Key site 2: Causeyside Street / Canal Street corner Context 5.22

Key site 2 is focussed on the gap site at the corner of Causeyside Street and the north side of Canal Street, and incorporates the existing buildings at 64 Causeyside Street.


The block within which these properties lie contains an adopted rear service lane (George Lane), which is accessed from George Street. George Lane is separated from the gap site and 64 Causeyside Street by derelict single storey buildings to the rear of 62 Causeyside Street. These buildings, a former butchers workshop, are in a poor state of repair (the roof has been partially removed).


The use, townscape quality and ownership of the various buildings involved are summarised in the table below:




Townscape quality


Gap site 62 Causeyside Street 64 Causeyside Street

Public open space Retail unit on ground floor, residential above. Windowless building to rear is a store. Retail and commercial units on ground floor, residential above. Pend through to derelict workshops at rear.

Limited. Frontage building is in poor condition and of relatively small scale. Frontage building is in good condition, buildings to rear are derelict.

Council owned Single ownership

Upper floors and rear workshops have one owner, commercial units are separately owned

All property owners at 62-64 Causeyside Street have indicated that they are keen to work with the Council on redevelopment proposals.



These oblique aerial images show the site and context: Key site 2 from the east

Key site 2 from the west

Key site 2 from the north Key site 2 from the south

Images courtesy of Live Search Maps

Proposals for key site 2 5.27


The proposals are shown in detail on the accompanying A3 plan insert (overleaf) and summarised in the following bullet points: •

Retention of the two storey frontage building at 62 Causeyside Street

Assembling a site by demolishing the two storey building and associated outbuildings at 64 Causeyside Street and derelict outbuildings at 62 Causeyside Street.

Construction of 4 storey development of 24 flats on the cleared site, with rear access and servicing via George Lane.

This site provides an excellent opportunity for a positive contribution to Paisley’s townscape, aspiring to match the architectural quality of the tenemental corners on the south side of the junction. It is also an important gateway to the town centre. Although we have based our proposals on a four storey development, in urban design terms it could be possible to build higher. This would however incur additional build costs as lifts, for example, would be required.


Viability for key site 2 5.29

The following paragraphs summarise the financial viability of the development proposals described above. Full details can be found in Appendix 7.


In arriving at their opinion of Gross Development Value, J&E Shepherd have applied the following valuations to the flats: •

One bedroom, two person flat (16 no.): £80,000

Two bedroom, four person flats (8 no.): £90,000


The total gross developable area of the proposals is 1,198m2 (see Appendix 7 for breakdown). For indicative valuation purposes, J&E Shepherd have arrived at a total gross development value of £2 million.


In the absence of detailed specifications and projected build costs (as anticipated), J&E Shepherd have assumed an overall build cost of £1,100/m2 (which in their opinion accurately reflects current build costs) and a minimum developers profit of 15%.


A very approximate appraisal on a residual basis gives only a marginal site value for these proposals for key site 2.

Key site 3: High Street / Orr Square Context 5.34


Key site 3 takes in a number of properties on the north side of the High Street between Church Hill and Orr Square. These buildings are of varying quality and condition, as the table shows: Property



Building/townscape quality


36 High Street 38 High Street 40 High Street




Poor condition

Single owner

Very poor condition, possibly hazardous

Single owner

42 High Street



Multiple owners

44 High Street


Very poor condition

46 High Street


4 retail units on ground floor, commercial above – all in use st Bar on ground and 1 floor, related office/store above 1 retail & 1 takeaway on ground floor, vacant/derelict above 1 retail & 1 office units on ground floor, offices above – all in use 3 retail units on ground floor (1 vacant), derelict/storage above 1 retail & 1 takeaway on ground floor, storage/commercial above

Multiple owners (unknown for part of upper storey) Multiple owners

3 3


The buildings at nos. 40 and 44 are in particularly poor condition and are in urgent need of


action. No.40 is in single ownership and the owner is not against exploring development solutions; this property has already been referred to in Chapter 4 in some detail. No. 44 has three ownership interests, one of them unknown; the known owners remain to be convinced of the benefits of redevelopment. 5.36

No.38 is in better condition than those at nos.40 and 44, but is poorly maintained and its upper floors appear underused. It is in single ownership.


No.46, on the corner with Orr Square, is well-maintained and is in generally good condition. Like no.44, however, it is the remnant of a building which once had 3 or 4 storeys. The building has been reduced to 2 storeys and a flat roof constructed, with a false pitch created on the elevation to the High Street.


These oblique aerial images show the site and context: Key site 3 from the south

Key site 3 from the west

Key site 3 from the east

Key site 3 from the north


Two physical constraints should be emphasised which are not immediately apparent from these photographs: â&#x20AC;˘

There is a substantial difference in levels between the front and rear elevations of each building â&#x20AC;&#x201C; approximately a full storey. The properties on the eastern section of the block (nos. 36-38 High Street) have no external access or daylighting at ground floor level. Those to the west (nos.40-46) do have rear yards, but for nos. 40-42 the only access is through the building.


Quite apart from the levels difference, there is very limited space to the rear of the western part of the block (nos. 40-46). This has been emphasised in recent years by the construction of a car parking area for new residential development on Orr Street.

Proposals for key site 3 5.40

The constraints described above make it extremely challenging to find a design solution for this site which resolves the problems at nos.40 and 44. The main difficulties are: •

Constricted sites which are difficult to link together, as they are separated by no.42 High Street which is in relatively good condition.

Lack of rear access and space for servicing and parking.

Multiple ownerships, not all of whom appear to be immediately warm to the idea of redevelopment.


To overcome these challenges, we have prepared an outline scheme which proposed demolition and mixed use new build not only at nos.40 and 44 High Street, but also at nos.38 and 46. This increases the footprint of each development, and tackles buildings which – although not in as poor condition as nos.40 and 44 – have a question mark over their longevity as part of the urban fabric.


The proposals are shown in detail on the accompanying A3 plan inserts (overleaf). In summary, the proposals provide 4 ground floor commercial units and 16 upper floor flats in two 4 storey developments, separated by the existing building at no.42 High Street. The eastern block could accommodate car parking on what is currently a rear service yard. The constricted nature and location of the western block means that it is impractical to provide parking: given the availability of car parking and public transport in the vicinity, we feel there is an argument to be made for providing no parking.

Viability for key site 3 5.43

The following paragraphs summarise the financial viability of the development proposals described above. Full details can be found in Appendix 7.


In arriving at their opinion of Gross Development Value, J&E Shepherd have applied an overall rate of approximately £10.00/ft2 to the ground floor commercial units. Similarly, they have applied a yield of 11% and highlight the market values of each unit to be as follows: Unit 1 Unit 2 Unit 3 Unit 4 Total commercial

£110,000 £185,000 £160,000 £195,000 £650,000 (overall capital rate of £966/m2)



Similarly, J&E Shepherd calculate the gross development value of the upper floor residential flatted dwellings to be as follows: 8 no. one bed, two person flats @ £80,000 4 no. one bed, three person flats @ £85,000 4 no. one bed, four person flats @ £90,000 Total residential

£640,000 £340,000 £360,000 £1,340,000

Total Gross Development Value residential & commercial



In the absence of detailed specifications and projected build costs (as anticipated), J&E Shepherd have assumed an overall build cost of £1,100/m2 (which in their opinion accurately reflects current build costs) and a minimum developers profit of 15%.


A very approximate appraisal on a residual basis indicates that on such assumptions these proposals for key site 3 are not commercially viable.

Key points 5.48

These feasibility studies reveal the potential for introducing significant numbers of residential units with some ground floor commercial use into the town centre, with associated benefits for improved townscape as well as demonstrating – in the longer term – that Paisley town centre is appropriate for property investment.


As our market commentary explains, the credit crunch means that now is not a good time to be implementing flatted residential schemes: borrowing is extremely difficult to access, both for developers and potential property buyers. This situation feeds through to our conclusions that the proposals for key sites 1 and 3 are not viable in current market circumstances, and the proposals for key site 2 are only marginally viable.


This need not, however, mean that the sites are not viable in the long term: when the investment and property markets recover, viability may increase. There are a number of complex variables at play here: an uplift in property value of around £15,000 per residential unit, for example, may render the schemes viable. Similarly, reductions in build costs would improve the viability of the schemes.


In terms of relative difficulty of implementation, key site 2 is undoubtedly the most straightforward: •

Approximate residual development appraisal indicates a marginal site value, which may increase as markets recover.

The Council has a significant ownership interest.

The ownership pattern is relatively straightforward, and key owners are keen to see their property redeveloped.

The key private owners need adjoining land in order to realise their development potential – with the Council’s ownership interest potentially playing a key facilitating role.

Access, parking and servicing are available via George Lane.



Key site 2 also offers great potential for a building of high quality to equal the excellent architectural treatment of the two southern corners of the junction, and make a strong positive impact as a gateway to the town centre.


Key sites 1 and 3 are more complicated â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in terms of ownerships and servicing arrangements â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and therefore have greater risk. Nevertheless, the reward is potentially substantial: both schemes would result in the removal of derelict properties, undoubtedly an additional benefit compared to key site 2.


The table below summarises the outcomes of the feasibility exercise for the three sites:


Development potential

Townscape impact

Financial viability (Sept. 2008)

Ownership complexities

Councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s land interest

Site 1 Causeyside St/New St

Causeyside St: 12 or 23 flats & 4 commercial units New St: 12 or 18 flats

Replacement of a number of poor quality buildings, one of which is partly derelict

Not commercially viable

New St gap site is mostly Councilowned. Causeyside St sites are private.

Potential for high quality building on prominent node/gateway to town centre Replacement of a number of poor quality buildings, one of which is partly derelict

Marginally viable

Complex: a number of owners (included subdivided buildings). Varying levels of interest. CPO may be required. Two private owners, both of whom are interested

Site 2 Causeyside St/Canal St

24 flats

Site 3 High St/Orr Sq

36-38 High St: 8 flats & 2 commercial units 40-46 High St: 8 flats & 2 commercial units

A number of owners (included subdivided buildings and one unknown ownership).

Sites are all privately owned

Not commercially viable

Key land ownership which would release development potential

Finally, we should note that a number of existing commercial tenants expressed concern at the proposals, not only at the prospect of losing their premises but also because of the likely increase in rents following redevelopment of commercial units. A common issue was that their businesses were marginal and could be adversely affected by any increase in rents. Whilst we would not suggest this is a reason to stop redevelopment, we would encourage early dialogue with existing businesses involving economic development officers/Scottish Enterprise as necessary.





We believe that this commission provides useful insights at a number of levels:


A snapshot of the current pattern of use and external condition of buildings in Paisley town centre, with a particular focus on vacant premises and gap sites. The summary information in Chapters 3 and 4, and the more detailed data contained in the appendices, capture this information in detail. This provides a useful comparison with the previous study in 2001, and can be used as a comparator for mapping trends if the Council wishes to repeat this study in a few years’ time.

Independent assessments of the potential for conversion of specific vacant upper floor properties to residential purposes. For the ten properties to which the study team has gained access, we have looked at the potential scope and ease of conversion (see Chapter 4 and Appendix 6). Where it appears to us that conversion is unlikely to be viable – perhaps because of the poor condition and heritage value of the building – we have clearly said so. We believe this impartial assessment of conversion potential will be helpful for the Council in deciding what interventions to make, both on individual sites and across the town centre.

More thorough (but still outline) assessments of the potential for redevelopment of a three clusters of key sites which, if implemented, could make a significant difference to the town centre. One of these sites – the corner of Causeyside Street and Canal Street – emerges as being worth progressing.

Intelligence and recommendations on wider strategic interventions that the Council could make to support greater use of vacant property in the town centre, garnered from discussions with owners, leaseholders and agents. Our recommendations on this aspect of the study are contained in the following paragraphs.

This chapter contains our recommendations on wider strategic interventions as the basis for an action plan. These recommendations fall into a number of areas: A: Grant assistance for enabling works . B: Condition surveys and site assembly. C: Compliance with regulatory frameworks. D: Fostering a spirit of partnership working with the private sector. E: Demonstration project.


The chapter explores each of these issues, then draws them together in an action plan and identifies some key implementation issues.



We also feel it is worthwhile including a brief comment on the current state of the housing market, given the current state of the economy. At the time of writing, the credit crunch is undoubtedly having an impact throughout the housing market. It is taking longer to sell properties than in recent years and mortgage availability is poor. It is beyond the scope of this commission to predict what will happen to the economy and the housing market in the short to medium term. However, we believe that now is the time to lay the foundation for action in anticipation of the markets becoming buoyant again in the next couple of years.

A: Grant assistance for enabling works 6.5

It became apparent during our site visits and subsequent analysis that grants are likely to be necessary for conversion of the majority of properties, irrespective of condition, in order for them to be financially viable. This confirms a view frequently expressed by owners and agents during the course of the study that grant funding is necessary.


Many of the conversions in the heart of the town centre face immediate heavy costs for removing dilapidated structures, clearing out old rear extensions and so on in order to create rear courtyards, which are pre-requisites for residential conversion in terms of daylighting and access. Assistance with the physical costs of site preparation – demolition and other enabling works – could then allow owners to bring forward viable proposals. As the results of our site visits in Chapter 4 and Appendix 6 show, the levels of grant funding required could be quite substantial – for example, 22 High Street (enabling costs of up to £120,000 are anticipated, see paragraph 4.35) and 40 High Street.


Sites with substantial amounts of redevelopment land attached (such as 4-6 Silk Street) or where buildings are generally in good order (such as 20 High Street) are likely to require less financial assistance, but may still need other forms of support in order to find flexible solutions to planning requirements or facilitate co-operation between owners where more than one ownership is involved. The property at 2-3 County Square (see paragraph 4.20) is another where limited financial assistance could be sufficient to encourage the owner to progress a scheme, as we understand that his main concern related to a difficulty in obtaining a financial contribution from the ground floor shop unit towards communal roof repairs.


The scale of a grant scheme could therefore be highly variable, from between £5,000 and £10,000 in the case of 2-3 County Square to £60,000–£120,000 for 22 High Street. If the Council is unable to offer the upper levels of grant required from its own resources, it may need to approach an external funder (such as Historic Scotland’s Conservation Area Renewal Schemes, and other Scottish Government or European Union initiatives) to finance the scheme.

B: Condition surveys and site assembly 6.9

Assisting with condition surveys and feasibility reports could also contribute to projects being taken forward. These should be seen as a complement to grants for enabling work rather than a substitute.


No up-to-date condition surveys existed for a number of the buildings that we visited – rot surveys, structural surveys and so on. The costs involved in this kind of work can mount up.


Grants towards their cost (even up to 95%) could spur owners on to starting work on schemes where nothing is happening, demonstrate the Council’s intent, and give the Council a lever to keep pressurising for continued action. 6.11

Individual owners will be reluctant to commit expenditure on joint feasibility studies where they have no guarantee of any return. The Council, on the other hand, can take a more strategic view and facilitate and encourage site assembly. This could be particularly effective where there are clusters of buildings with potential for conversion or redevelopment – such as the three Key Sites explored in Chapter 5 and the site at 18-22 High Street/17 School Wynd discussed in Chapter 4.

C: Compliance with regulatory frameworks 6.12

Many of the sites we visited were constrained town centre sites. Meeting regulatory requirements (fire, building control and planning) will be challenging and costly – which makes town centre developments less likely to happen than new build, all things being equal.


For example: •

Meeting increasingly tight fire regulations is a challenge, particularly on higher buildings which have original narrow close entrances and tight staircases (such as along the High Street). We are not suggesting that safety requirements are breached, but we would suggest that developers and regulatory authorities work together to solve these difficult issues.

There is no spare land to provide car parking on any of the town centre sites we looked at in detail (except possibly Silk Street) – nor, arguably, is there any need given the public transport accessibility of the town centre and the modern transport planning policy context. The Council should consider waiving parking provision and commuted sums on town centre sites.


We would encourage Council officers in both to work proactively with developers, architects and agents with the aim of finding solutions to problems. Many officers already do this: we would urge that this spirit be fostered across the roads, planning, building control and estates functions, and – equally importantly – that it is communicated proactively to the development sector. There appears to be a widespread perception, however mistaken, that Council officers are not willing to be proactive in securing development solutions.


Successfully challenging these negative perceptions needs proactive contact from the Council – and could encourage landowners and developers that it is worthwhile investing their energy and funds in the town centre. This is explored more below.

D: Working in partnership with the private sector 6.16

A recurring theme in many of our recommendations outlined above is the relationship between the public and private sectors. We are not saying those relationships are bad: more that fostering those relationships further could provide significant benefits. Implementing the interventions we have described above would provide positive signals to property owners and developers that the Council is keen to support redevelopment, helping to counter some of the negativity expressed by a number of agents and owners about the


Council’s efforts to regenerate the town centre, however partial those views may be. 6.17

The potential significance of sending the right signals to the private sector is huge: demonstrating that you are prepared to sit alongside and support motivated landowners in negotiations with more truculent co-owners, where co-operation could avoid lengthy legal delays and costs, could persuade an owner to push forward with a scheme rather than shelve it for a few years. (And, of course, if the Council ever needs to move to use of legal powers, it will also provide supporting evidence.)


As a team, we believe that extending this spirit of positive partnership working is the key to success. Property regeneration will be totally dependent on the private sector, and all our discussions with them have indicated that they are reluctant to commit energy and resources to projects which are complex and will provide uncertain returns. Many owners we spoke to were considering moving projects forward, but were in no rush to do so. To encourage them to invest energy and funds, they need to be actively welcomed with positive signals – whilst at the same time giving a clear message that developments must match the design quality that has been achieved with recent new buildings in the town centre.

E: Demonstration project 6.19

Implementing a demonstration project in partnership with the private sector would not only prove to the town’s residents that the town centre is turning round, it could also be used by the Council to galvanise other landowners to move forward with schemes for their particular sites as the market recovers in the future – including sites where owners have not yet seen the potential.


Whilst there will be no such thing as an easy win, we suggest focussing on a scheme which has high townscape impact and low risk to the Council. (Indeed, the demonstration scheme need not be one of the sites that we have proposed: it could be a property where a developer is already working up a scheme, a number of which are identified in Appendix 4.) The aim should be for the Council to work with the private sector to produce a really great project that would act as a catalyst for future action – by registering this approach to town centre regeneration on developers’ radar and demonstrating to the public that change is happening.


Of the sites that we have looked at in this study, we would suggest that key site 2 is the most appropriate to take forward. As we have explained in paragraphs 5.58-5.59, it offers a number of advantages: •

The approximate residual development appraisal indicates a marginal site value, which may increase as markets recover.

The Council has a significant ownership interest.

The ownership pattern is relatively straightforward, and key owners are keen to see their property redeveloped.

The key private owners need adjoining land in order to realise their development potential – with the Council’s ownership interest potentially playing a key facilitating role.

Access, parking and servicing are available via George Lane.



It offers great potential for a building of high quality to equal the excellent architectural treatment of the two southern corners of the junction, and make a strong positive impact as a gateway to the town centre.

Although current market conditions are not conducive to seeking development finance or selling property, now is the time to prepare for an upturn in the property market. We suggest that this is an ideal time for the public sector to start to prepare the demonstration project so that it is ready for implementation when finance becomes more available.

The action plan 6.23

The recommendations described above are drawn together in the action plan below, with indicative programming: 2008 A



Grant assistance for enabling works Condition surveys and site assembly


Compliance with regulatory frameworks


Partnership working with the private sector


Demonstration project – key site 2



Explore possibilities of Begin to implement Full implementation grant funding, internally grant funding of grant funding and externally Offer tailored assistance on a case by case basis, focussing on sites visited as part of this commission (see Chapters 4 and 5) and other sites where architects have already been engaged (see Appendix 4 – especially 4-6 Forbes Pl, 18 High St and 13 Moss St) Encourage solution-focussed attitudes amongst roads, planning & estates officers dealing with development proposals – foster understanding of the Council’s overall aims in the town centre and encourage a facilitative approach Prepare strategy for Planning and estates officers implement systematic strategy, focussing on owners/properties communication with identified in ‘B’ above local landowners and agents – co-ordinated messages to boost interest in investing in the town centre, linked with other Council/partner publicity for the town centre Gain in-principle Begin procurement process (e.g. RIBA Plan of commitment from Work Stages) estates and roads colleagues, then owners of 62/64 Causeyside St

We recommend that the effectiveness of the action plan be reviewed annually – a light touch qualitative analysis should be sufficient, with the aim of refining delivery of the various actions.

Conclusions 6.25

Implementing the action plan will require staff resources, and in some cases financial


resources. We realise that the Council may already wish to implement many of these suggestions but be constrained by resource availability. 6.26

To ensure success, we suggest the Council should either consider realigning internal resources to prioritise these issues (for example within the planning and estates functions) and/or seek external support from Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government (possibly through the creation of a URC or other initiative which might bring additional dedicated resources). First and foremost, this means allocating more staff time to developing positive working relationships with the private sector and developing potential grant programmes.


The difficulty of agreeing site visits with owners and agents that we experienced (see Chapter 4) should not be taken as indicating that the private sector are not interested; more that they need to see commitment, and be encouraged to invest, before they can be persuaded there is something in it for them. Those owners and agents who we met were positive about this study – direct contact from Council officers would be a clear statement of intent from the Council, a step up from the indirect contact via consultants that we represented.


The strongest demonstration of commitment is financial support: ultimately, that is what will make schemes happen. But there are other ways of the Council making clear that it wants to work in partnership with the private sector for the good of the town, such as proactively supporting the schemes of well-intentioned landowners in negotiations (e.g. land assembly).


It is important to be aware that the properties that we visited during this commission represent a sample of the projects which could be taken forward. A number of other owners have told us that they are progressing their own proposals independently (particularly 4-6 Forbes Place, 13 Moss Street and 18 High Street). This is evidence that the private sector is willing to take forward developments projects if they are viable. We believe the key issues are: •

Bridging the viability gap, where it exists.

Encouraging and supporting owners and long leaseholders to accelerate their schemes, co-ordinating with other adjoining landowners where necessary.

For those few owners who do not act responsibly and fail to invest in their property and promote development, be prepared to step in and use compulsory powers.


Paisley town centre has much to offer the residential market – not only in terms of location (a mile from Glasgow Airport and less than 10 minutes from Glasgow city centre) but also the quality of flats that could potentially be created. However attractive the location, the only realistic way that residential schemes are likely to be delivered in any quantity in the foreseeable future is through the private market. Yet town centre sites are challenging, complex and potentially more costly than new build projects to deliver. Supporting the private sector to bring these schemes forward therefore needs positive actions to level the playing field.


Our recommendations are challenging: that is simply a reflection of the nature of the task. But the potential rewards are substantial. Successfully facilitating the private sector to deliver new housing could provide significant improvements in townscape quality, investment confidence and town centre activity, supporting the Council’s aim of regenerating the town centre as the bustling and active heart of Paisley.


nick wright planning

planning, community engagement & regeneration


276 Main Road Elderslie Johnstone PA5 9EF Scotland

experience t/f 01505 352147



m 07900 334110

Paisley town centre vacancy study  

final report by consultancy team led by Nick Wright Planning