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Way ahead for £56.7m Paisley Museum project is revealed


The proposed next steps on ambitious £56.7m plans to transform Paisley Museum into an international-class visitor attraction have been unveiled by council bosses.


This week, councillors will be asked to approve a fresh application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project, and the creation of a project team to continue detailed development work over the next year.

An initial £15m funding bid lodged with HLF earlier this year was unsuccessful but lottery staff gave positive feedback on the project’s ambition, quality, and likely impact on the town’s regeneration.

If given the green light by members of the Leadership Board on Wednesday, council staff will now start work on a new application to go to HLF in December.

Last year the council set aside £15m for the project, which aims to extend the current building – operated by Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd – into a major attraction based on Paisley’s unique textile heritage.

Studies estimate the project would be worth £89m a year to the local economy, triple annual museum visitor numbers to 150,000, and support 238 jobs.

Work will run alongside Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture and it is hoped the museum will have a phased opening for 2021 – but if that timescale is to be hit, design work needs to continue.

For that reason councillors are being asked to spend £1.2m from existing regeneration resources on staff costs and detailed business case development.

At the same time, discussions are being planned with the UK and Scottish Governments and other agencies to help bring in other funds for the project before going back to HLF.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “While we were disappointed not to be funded first time around, we are certainly not disheartened as HLF made clear it was an extremely competitive round of funding and it is often the case projects like this are not successful on the first go.

“It was encouraging that HLF spoke so highly of what we are trying to do and the benefits it would bring to Renfrewshire – and we now have a clearer idea of what we need to do to be successfully funded at a later date.

“Part of that is further development of the museum’s fundraising strategy and we will be pushing ahead with that over the next six months.

“This project could have an utterly massive economic impact on Renfrewshire, creating new jobs, bringing large numbers of day-trippers and tourists into the area, and creating new footfall for Paisley High Street.

“Alongside the UK City of Culture 2021 bid, it will also have major community and educational benefit, helping reconnect the people of Paisley with the unique heritage and Pattern which bears the town’s name.

“For those reasons and more we remain utterly committed to delivering it in full and as planned, and the proposals going to councillors next week will help us do that.”

Alongside the museum project, work is well advanced to create a publicly-accessible museum store in a vacant unit on Paisley’s High Street for next year, opening up access to parts of the town’s collection currently not available for viewing.

Money has also been set aside to relocate the town’s lending library to another empty High Street unit, although the heritage library will stay as part of the museum.