AN old derelict paint factory has been saved and is being transformed into flats and it happened by chance.

Lar Housing Trust is working to create 43 flats in the former Alexander, Fergusson & Co Lead and Colour works factory in Ruchill, on the north bank of the Forth and Clyde Canal.

In our Glasgow Times Investigates series we have been looking at abandoned buildings in Glasgow.

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READ NEXT: The story of Glasgow's built heritage that's been left to rot

Today we look at one where developers spotted the potential for reuse without resorting to demolition.

The old factory was first derelict in 1980 and has been occupied periodically since then and vacant for 10 years.

When Ann Leslie, chief executive of Lar Housing Trust, was driving past to visit one of their other sites she spotted the for sale sign on the industrial heritage property.

That was three years ago and after acting quickly to secure the sale the building was stripped out over eight months and following construction work starting in November last year the new homes are starting to take shape.

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The flats will be for mid-market rent financed by Lar’s low-interest loan model with money from the Scottish Government and Scottish Widows.

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Ms Leslie said: “As soon as I saw the for sale sign, I was straight on the phone.”

In the space of three years from the first phone call, the site has progressed to the stage where completion is expected to be less than a year away.

Taking on a heritage site takes vision and commitment, a different proposition from one where maximising returns on an investment is the overriding motive.

A site like the Ruchill development is, Ms Leslie explained, a new development on a site cleared by demolition.

She said: “It’s not like a new build with everything exactly the same.

“We have six different make-ups (layouts of the homes).

“It is a risk. It starts with the planning them then you find something new when you break through a wall.”

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The objective however is to reuse as much as possible, ‘reuse where possible’ being of the stated values of the trust.

John Dibben, site manager, said much of the original features will remain in place including the external brickwork, floors stairwells and timber roof.

Ms Leslie added: “If we can keep something we will keep it.

“We’re like the Wombles, we’ll save it and make good use of it somewhere else.”

The original plan was for 39 flats but it was then discovered that there was room for another four in the roof space.

The top floor flats will have patio doors on to a terrace overlooking the canal and with views across the west end of Glasgow.

Tradespeople are busy working on the L-shaped blocks.

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The canalside block will have four floors including the roofspace.

A walk-through shows the origin timber beams, and flooring.

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Blast doors can still be seen and spaces where lift shafts once were are being retained and incorporated into the design. 

The property is in a part of Ruchill that was once a thriving industrial area on the bank of the canal providing work for many local people.

Ruchill was once home to the McLennan Glasgow Rubber Works and Bryant and May matches.

Lar Trust has experience of undertaking other industrial restoration projects across Scotland as well as new builds.

Ms Leslie said: “Wherever housing is needed we are happy to go.”

She said Lar was a Housing Trust for affordable homes with the aim of keeping rents down.

The trust has also taken over another derelict property in Glasgow.

Last week the Glasgow Times featured the old Inn on the Green building in Greenhead Street near Glasgow Green, which used to be a gum factory.

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It has been vacant and decaying for decades with previous plans coming to nothing.

Lar has taken it over and rather than seek to demolish it will retain much of the exterior.

Ms Leslie said: “We have been on site for three weeks now. It is the most challenging site by far.”

The plan is to keep the façade and the back wall.

She said it will take around five months to remove the internal debris that has built up over many years.

Once complete it will provide 37 flats a with additional facilities in a basement that was discovered once Lar had access.