Accounts of the Community Development Projects (CDPs) that ran as experimental interventions in twelve deprived UK localities in the 1970s concentrate on those projects identified as ‘radical’. Focusing on the often-neglected history of Paisley’s CDP, this article extends recent critical re-evaluations of how CDPs have been characterized. Ferguslie Park in Paisley was the most disadvantaged of the CDP areas on several criteria, and the only CDP to be based in an outer-urban area, as well as being distinct in further ways. This influenced how the CDP team devised its community development strategy, which is misunderstood when treated as embodying a parochial ‘kailyard’ mentality. Paisley’s CDP has continuing relevance to debates about area-based policy and public involvement in research as they are rehearsed in new contexts.
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