Housing to 2040 Voices: Ian Patrick, resident and Trustee Methodist Central Hall, Paisley

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During the summer in 2019 A&DS and Scottish Government travelled to four locations across Scotland to review the delivery of recent affordable housing – built and planned. You can read more about the workshops here. We also spoke to people involved in the projects –  from the resident to the client, the architect to the councillor.  Here are their stories.


I’m Paisley born and bred, and have been a member of the Methodist Church here all my life.I’ve been involved in various aspects of church life on and off for the last 50 years and have done more of less all the jobs in the church, apart from being a preacher! At the moment I’m one of trustees.

Ours is the last Central Hall in use in Scotland.It’s a place of worship on a Sunday but every other day of the week it’s available for the community to use. Various clubs and groups meet here, for example a youth group, photographic society and mental health groups. The building also hosts a large number of events, including musical performances in the 500-seat auditorium. So, it’s used almost as a community centre.

Town Centre challenges

After the Arnott’s department store next door to our Hall closed in 2003, the place quickly became run-down. For many years after, this part of town was very neglected and in need of a lot of money and attention.

Over the last few years, the Council has put plenty of effort into improving the town centre, running a number of events to bring people into the town. That seems to be working, and more of that would certainly be good.

The new housing developments are great news for the town.The appearance of the area has vastly improved since the development of flats started around the corner [in the historic Arnott’s building on Gauze Street]. A new restaurant has also opened there – it’s very popular and has brought much more life and footfall to this part of town. Things are certainly better now than they were for a number of years after Arnott’s closed.

I am looking forward to this latest set of flats in phase 3 being finished. Having more people living here should bring further improvements for the area. There is still talk of developing the remaining vacant land behind the new flats – I think it would be a good move.

Potential for the High Street

The latest phase of the development on the Arnott’ site has not been without challenges for the church, though. Our Hall and the Arnott’s building were butted together, and there was an ongoing technical problem which led to a dispute. But suffice to say the development has been positive for the area.

Now the Council needs to get its head round what to do about the high street– there are so many vacant shops and it needs a rethink. Like many towns, I think Paisley is suffering due to out-of-town shopping. I know some people believe that high street shopping will revive, but I have my doubts about that.

On the upside, more and more people coming into Paisley town centre for meals in the evenings. A whole lot of new restaurants have opened up in Paisley, not far from where the development is at the moment, including the new one on Gauze Street. They all seem to be doing well.

My personal thoughts are that we need more new housing accommodation in the high street rather than shops – that’ll bring more life to the town centre. I feel the approach taken with these new developments of flats is the right one… to have more people living in the centre of town.

Read more about the Housing to 2040 Summer Workshops here.

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