Fi­nal de­ci­sion looms on Half-Time School De­vel­op­ers want to de­mol­ish what re­mains of iconic build­ing

Paisley Daily Express - - Front Page - Chris Tay­lor

Plan­ners could toll the fi­nal bell for the iconic Half­Time School.

Coun­cil­lors in­spected the his­toric build­ing’s ru­ins and will now have to de­cide whether any of it can be saved.

Ex­perts have warned the cam­pus is beyond re­pair and has been rav­aged by fire and ne­glect.

Coun­cil­lor Eileen McCartin was among those who vis­ited the land­mark’s re­mains be­fore rul­ing whether it should be bull­dozed for flats.

She said: “When I moved to Pais­ley 40 years ago, this build­ing stood in all its splen­dour to be ad­mired by lo­cals and vis­i­tors.

“Years of mis­man­age­ment, fires, and the hor­ren­dous plan­ning laws we have in this coun­try have al­lowed this once mag­nif­i­cent build­ing to fall into a ruin which now can’t be saved.

“I want to en­sure that, if this ap­pli­ca­tion is passed, as much as pos­si­ble of the build­ing’s iden­ti­fi­able fea­tures must re­main.

“Peo­ple who move into any new flats built here need to know that they are liv­ing in a her­itage site which was part of Pais­ley’s his­tory.”

The Pais­ley South­west coun­cil­lor is a mem­ber of Old Pais­ley So­ci­ety ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing the town’s rich past.

She in­sists lit­tle ef­fort has been made to pre­serve the build­ing’s iconic fa­cade and stonework.

The Lib­eral Demo­crat brought along a pho­to­graph of the B-listed build­ing, which shows the school as it once stood.

RH Con­tracts wants to build 40 flats on the site and has ap­plied to clear the ground.

Coun­cil­lors will be given the fi­nal de­ci­sion on whether any of the re­main­ing struc­ture should be used in any de­sign or whether the land should be cleared.

Plan­ning chiefs have warned raz­ing the cen­tre may be the only op­tion af­ter the school was gut­ted by fire and dam­aged by high winds two decades ago.

They say bull­doz­ers may have to move in as only wall sec­tions are now left stand­ing.

Fraser Car­lin, head of plan­ning and hous­ing for Ren­frew­shire Coun­cil, pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted the site is “not ca­pa­ble” of “vi­able re­use” in a re­port.

He said: “The re­moval of the re­mains of the Half-Time School would present the op­por­tu­nity for the re­de­vel­op­ment of a site oc­cu­pied by a derelict build­ing.

“The lim­ited re­main­ing ex­te­rior walls are sup­ported by tem­po­rary prop­ping and all are sub­stan­tially af­fected by pro­longed van­dal­ism and coated with spray paint and graf­fiti.”

Mr Car­lin says at­tempts to save the site in the past have “failed to ma­te­ri­alise” over a “pro­tracted pe­riod of time” and with suc­ces­sive own­ers.

RH Con­tracts wants to build a sin­gle U-shaped, four-storey block on the plot.

The Half-Time School was de­signed by Wood­house and Mor­ley and built by J&P Coats in 1887 near its mills.

Its classes were filled by 400 young girls, all work­ing for the tex­tile gi­ant.

They would at­tend lessons on al­ter­nate days, giv­ing the cen­tre its name.

It was taken into pub­lic con­trol af­ter law changes made school com­pul­sory for all chil­dren in 1904.

The build­ing then had var­i­ous uses, in­clud­ing as a mill din­ing hall and fire sta­tion.

Ciba-Geigy bought the build­ing and turned it into its so­cial club, be­fore it be­came the Cot­ton Club in the 1980s – a favourite haunt for foot­ballers and celebri­ties.

It suf­fered dam­age dur­ing a se­ri­ous fire, but was brought back into use as the In­sti­tute night­club be­fore the blaze that caused its clo­sure.

Site visit Coun­cil­lors in­spected the his­toric site

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