Cllr Kenny MacLaren raises concerns over Buildings at Risk

“This report highlights that there are 555 listed buildings within Renfrewshire, most of which are in private ownership,” said Councillor Kenny MacLaren (SNP – Paisley Northwest), commenting on a report on Listed Buildings and Built Heritage coming to the Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board on Tuesday 17th August.

Although the report states that the majority cause no immediate concern for the council there are some which will need targeted Council action for wider regeneration as the housing/ property market has failed. This includes buildings which have lain vacant, underused or unmaintained for several years.  This includes 30 properties on the Buildings at Risk Register held by Historic Environment Scotland (in 2017 there were 43 such buildings in Renfrewshire). The priorities for the council include the former Liberal Club on Paisley’s High Street, the old Fire Station in Gordon Street and the former Royal Alexandra Infirmary in Paisley.

Councillor Kenny MacLaren said:

“There has been a lot of concern about the state of some of the listed buildings in Renfrewshire but – as this report shows – the current powers of the council are limited.

“However, potential ‘Compulsory Sales Orders’ that are being considered by the Scottish Government could be seen as a last resort attempt to tackle issues such as long-term vacant/ derelict land, empty homes and properties on the Buildings at Risk Register.

“One of the biggest problems in encouraging owners to act is the current 100% exemption on business rates for listed buildings which are vacant – meaning there is little incentive for them to maintain or improve such buildings.  However, the Barclay Review recommended removing this exemption after 2 years of ownership. Although this was accepted by the Scottish Government and was initially planned to be implemented in April 2020, this was delayed due to the covid pandemic.  This potential change could have a significant impact on the redevelopment of listed buildings.”