A MAJOR step has been taken in saving an architectural gem in Paisley after plans for a multi-million-pound redevelopment were given the go-ahead.

The B-listed former Royal Alexandra Infirmary (RAI) and its grounds look set to be brought back to life in the form of 81 one and two-bedroom flats after proposals were approved earlier this week.

The heritage treasure between Calside and Neilston Road, which was ravaged by a fire in 2022, has been a long-running source of anguish for neighbours and councillors after becoming a target for vandals and ghost hunters.

But the red sandstone building has now landed a lifeline after applications for the relevant permissions were rubber-stamped at the planning and climate change policy board on Tuesday.

Glasgow Times: Councillor Bruce MacFarlane, an SNP representative for Paisley Southeast, said: “I welcome the report being brought forward.

“It’s good to see, hopefully, the maintaining of one of the important buildings in Paisley.

“I know there’s been a lot of campaigning in trying to save the building, so I’m delighted the report has come forward.”

Wellwood Leslie, architects working on behalf of the applicant, released a blueprint last summer outlining a £15 million project to transform the original infirmary into 45 flats and build two additional blocks of flats with a combined 36 units on the land.

Graham Stuart, a partner of the company, said in July the building was “perilously close” to falling into a “ruinous state” after years of vandalism, fires and adverse weather. But, he added that with this investment the historic former hospital would be “saved for future generations”.

This week, planning officers recommended elected members grant permission, subject to a number of conditions, because it would deliver a “good quality” residential development which would enable the reuse of one of the town’s landmark buildings.

Councillor John McNaughtan, an SNP representative for Paisley East and Central, said: “I welcome this application, it’s been too long in the making.”

According to the design statement submitted with the planning application, the RAI was built between 1897 and 1900 to the design of architect Thomas Graham Abercrombie.

The site originally consisted of four buildings, which included the main infirmary, a nurses’ home, dispensary and lodge.

The main infirmary remained in use as a hospital until 1986 when the Royal Alexandra Hospital opened in Corsebar Road.

Around that time, the easternmost wing of the infirmary was converted to flats and renamed Alexandra Gate. The remaining part of the building became a care home which would close in 2008.

The nurses’ home was converted to flats between 2005 and 2006 and renamed the Peter Coats Building, while the former dispensary and lodge is now a children’s nursery.

In March 2022, a blaze took hold of the derelict infirmary building but most of it survived the incident.

Councillor Ben Smith, a Labour representative for Paisley Northwest, said at the board meeting: “The drawings look great … It’s great to see that it’s hopefully been saved for a new future and more houses in and around the town centre is always a good thing, so I look forward to seeing it.”