TESCO is to dramatically downgrade its plans for a massive supermarket in the heart of Paisley.
The company had hoped to build a huge 130,000sq ft superstore in the Wallneuk area of town, just off Renfrew Road.
Tesco chiefs had been due to present their plans to Renfrewshire Council last week but that meeting was cancelled.
Now the Paisley Daily Express can reveal that the company has told council planners that they want to change the blueprints so that a smaller development takes place.
The change of heart comes after campaigners claimed the Wallneuk store would kill off other businesses in Paisley town centre.
Jennifer Duncan, Tesco’s corporate affairs manager in Scotland, told the Express: “We have taken on board the comments from councillors, planning officials and members of the public with regards to our proposals for a supermarket at Wallneuk.
“Having done this, we now propose to reduce the overall floorspace and, in particular, significantly reduce the amount of floorspace given over to the sale of non-food items.
“Precise details of our amended proposals have still to be finalised.”
Tesco’s plans for a new store in Paisley have had a chequered history.
Originally, Britain’s largest retailer – who already has a store in East Lane, Paisley, as well as branches in Renfrew and Barrhead – had planned to build an 80,000sq ft store on the former Love Street home of St Mirren Football Club.
But the company then snapped up a £4.75million plot of council land at Wallneuk and switched their focus, announcing they now hoped Love Street would be used for a new housing development.
The original plans for the Wallneuk site included new pedestrian crossings in Renfrew Road, Wallneuk Road and Hamilton Street, a new bus stop in a lay-by in Renfrew Road and more than 700 parking spaces.
But the proposals have not been without their critics.
The Paisley and District Trades Union Council claim the plans for a Tesco Extra store at Wallneuk would sound the death-knell for high street shops.
Yesterday, the group’s secretary, Duncan Macintosh, welcomed Tesco’s decision to revise its plans but insisted that the Wallneuk site still poses a threat to town centre shops.
“It is still in the wrong location,” he said. “If they have decided to go with a smaller store, why don’t they use the former Arnotts building? It already has planning permission and a store there would actually benefit the town centre.
“If Tesco wanted to move into the Arnotts site, the objections it currently faces would fall away.”
However, Tesco has rejected suggestions that its plans for Wallneuk will do anything less than benefit the town as a whole.
“Our proposed supermarket at Wallneuk will still attract tens of thousands of new shoppers every week to Paisley,” said Ms Duncan. “Other shops and businesses in the town could benefit from this new influx of shoppers too.
“Although Wallneuk is only a few minutes’ walk from the centre of Paisley, we have also pledged to run a direct bus service from our Wallneuk store to the town centre, making it even easier for people to get to other shops and businesses.
“Our proposed supermarket at Wallneuk would aid the regeneration of Paisley town centre as it would bring a much-needed element of that regeneration, attracting people back to Paisley again.
“These shoppers being attracted back to Paisley would normally do their main food shopping outside of the town.”
A Renfrewshire Council spokesman said the local authority is unsure about when Tesco bosses will put forward their new plans.
He added: “It had been anticipated that the application from Tesco for Wallneuk would be presented to the meeting of Renfrewshire Council last Thursday, February 18, but Tesco have advised us that they wish to significantly revise their proposals.
“The details and extent of the revision have not yet been submitted and will have to be assessed before council planners will be able to make a recommendation.
“For this reason, the application will now be considered at a future meeting of the council.”