In January 2009 a campaign group Stop Tesco Owning Paisley (STOP) was set up amid concerns that an application for a 138,000 sq ft Tesco Extra store at Renfrew Road would devastate the town centre.
In March 2005 the Council had granted the football club's application for outline planning permission for redevelopment of its grounds with a supermarket. The Council's Director of Planning had recommended refusal on the grounds that the proposal was contrary to the structure plan and adopted local plan policies, would conflict with government guidance in NPPG8 and 17, in that it would be detrimental to the vitality and viability of Paisley Town Centre. However, a majority of Councillors voted to approve that application as a way of helping the club out of its financial difficulties.,
St Mirren had been trying to vacate their current ground at Love Street and find a buyer so that they could afford a move to a new stadium. The club had to sell to a supermarket chain as selling the ground for housing would not generate enough money. As part of the deal Tesco agreed to fund the building of a replacement stadium. Residents and traders in Paisley opposed the application but club supporters backed it. Friends of the Earth Scotland has spoken out against it. In September 2007 Renfrewshire Council approved a planning application from the site owner to flatten the town's existing stadium at Love Street and build in its place a 80,000 sq ft supermarket and car park. The site was then bought by Tesco which went onto provide a new football ground elsewhere in the town. However, in 2008 it emerged that Tesco intends to develop a 130,000 sq ft Tesco Extra at Renfrew Road instead of the 80,000 sq ft store at Love Street.
In December 2008 Tesco applied for full planning permission for a Tesco Extra on Renfrew Road and for outline planning permission for housing on the Love Street site. The Renfrew Road site is closer to but outside and not on the edge of the town centre, and the site would be larger. Part of the Wallneuk Industrial Estate, it is zoned for industrial use, and underused. Tesco has already acquired the most valuable part of the site adjoining the road, and has agreed to buy another part of it from Renfrewshire Council for £4.75m. Several other parts of the site would have to be acquired. Customer vehicle access would be where the main radial arterial road linking Paisley town centre to the M8 meets the ring road, whereas Love Street is a less important radial route.
Campaigners in Paisley believed the development was contrary to the regional and local plans because:
A. developments of this size should be in strategic town centres such as Paisley's.
B. there is a site within the town centre which is large enough for a development of this size (former Arnotts department store site) which should be developed in preference to a site outside the town centre. With the development of edge of centre and suburban supermarkets, and nearby major shopping centres at Braehead and Silverburn, the town centre shops mainly sell cheaper comparison goods. It seems likely that these shops will loose custom to the comparison goods side of the Tesco Extra. The population is declining (-3.5% 1991-2007) and now consumer spending is dropping.
The traffic impact would also be a material consideration, as there appears no way of increasing the capacity of the road network near the site access, and it is already very congested at this point during rush hours.