New changing pavilions at 'the Racecourse' in Paisley on the way

A general view of St James' playing fields in Paisley
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Neil)

Works to introduce new changing pavilions at the once-thriving St James' playing fields in Paisley are expected to start on site next month.

The modular buildings are being manufactured off site, according to Renfrewshire Council, before the contractor is due to begin piling at the park, known as the Racecourse, in July. It is hoped this part of the project will be complete by November, with plans to bring four pitches back into use being undertaken separately by the local authority.

Councillor Iain McMillan, Labour group leader and representative for Johnstone South and Elderslie, sought an update on the eagerly anticipated venture which aims to breathe new life into a historically popular facility. "I know there's lots of football teams keeping an eye on this and hopefully this will add to the number of pitches we have in the area," he told Wednesday's leadership board.

"It's not just about boys' or men's football. As we know, girls and women's football has gone through the roof in this particular area and an extra four full-size pitches would be of great benefit to women's football as well."

Barbara Walker, the council's infrastructure programme director, responded: "The contractor had originally indicated that they were going to start on site in August but the pavilions are actually being manufactured off site, so a lot of the work is not visible at the moment at St James'.

"But the contractor confirmed in the last couple of weeks that they attend to start piling in July now so there will be works earlier. The completion date for this contract is November … but we're hoping with the contractor starting earlier than it had planned that they will be completed before November.

"But as I say that's the date in the contract for completion, November. This should enable four additional pitches to be brought back into use to cover off the demand."

The project, which went out to tender for a second time in May 2023, suffered a setback when responses again came in over the planned budget. However, it was agreed in December another £600,000 should be put towards it to ensure it could proceed, bringing the overall budget to £3.5 million. A contract was subsequently given the green light in February of this year.

Councillor Kenny MacLaren, an SNP representative for Paisley Northwest, welcomed the progress that is now being made. He said: "The Racecourse has a great history for the development of football across Paisley and Renfrewshire, with many youth teams playing their games there every weekend.

"Unfortunately, over time – and in part due to the failed railway link to the airport – the Racecourse has suffered from poor drainage and this has led to fewer pitches being proposed. The new changing rooms will bring the Racecourse back to life, with football teams coming back to an iconic location."

Councillor James MacLaren, a Conservative representative for Bishopton, Bridge of Weir and Langbank, added: "I'm disappointed that we don't have the pavilions up and running yet. We know that football teams in the area are desperate to find somewhere to play and train, so we need to get this facility back into use as quickly as we can."

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