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Leases signed to bring two High St units back into use

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Two vacant units in Paisley High Street are set to be brought back into use in a double boost for the town centre’s regeneration and UK City of Culture 2021 bid.

The former Burger King restaurant at 5 High Street will be refurbished and opened within the next few months as a base for the Paisley 2021 bid.

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And the basement of the adjacent Bargain Buys store at number 7 has moved a step closer to becoming a publicly-accessible museum store by 2017.

Members of Renfrewshire Council’s Planning and Property Policy Board today gave council officers the green light to sign leases on both units.

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Once refurbishment work is complete, the Paisley 2021 Hub will function as a central and visible point where the public can drop in to find out more about the bid, as well as an office and meeting space for the bid team.

The confirmation of the lease for the museum store comes after the council last year set aside £3.7m towards the costs of fitting out the large basement unit by 2017.

The building will house the contents of the current museum store at Whitehaugh but will be designed in a way that allows access to the public and educational groups.

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Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “This is a double boost for Paisley as the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 gathers pace.

“By finding new and innovative uses for two units on our High Street which have been empty for years, we are generating footfall which will help surrounding retail businesses, while also improving the appearance of the street.

“These two developments won’t on their own solve all the problems of Paisley’s High Street but they and other projects around the town centre – such as the ongoing work at Arnotts and the Russell Institute – all mark big steps in the right direction.

“The Paisley 2021 Hub will be a focal point for the activities of the small bid team – and by taking them out of the council offices and into the heart of the town centre we are sending a message that this bid belongs to all of Paisley.

“Meanwhile, the museum store is a key part of our plans to transform Paisley’s future using heritage and culture, and will go ahead whether we win the UK City of Culture title or not.

“Paisley is fortunate to have a museum collection regarded as internationally-significant but at the moment we don’t have the capacity to get enough of it on display.

“Once complete, the new facility will change that, which will be good news for the residents, visitors and school pupils who we expect to make use of it.

“This development, alongside the bigger plans to turn Paisley Museum into an international class destination for heritage tourism by 2021, can help inject a new energy into our town centre and High Street.”

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New venue plans take step forward with cash boost

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Ambitious plans for a community-led theatre and cinema development in Paisley town centre have taken another step forward thanks to a council cash injection.

The Paisley 2021 Community Development Trust is working on innovative proposals for a multi-purpose performance venue as part of the wider push to use culture and heritage to transform Paisley’s future, including a bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

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And the trust has been awarded up to a maximum of £34,000 from a council fund for social enterprises to help them produce a detailed business case for the new venue.

A feasibility study into a new venue was one of the key strands of the heritage-led regeneration strategy for Paisley revealed by Renfrewshire Council last year.

The flagship project of the regeneration strategy is the plans to turn Paisley Museum into a national museum of textile and costume and an international destination for heritage tourism.

The Paisley 2021 Trust – a charitable organisation formed by local businessmen and including PACE Theatre Group – last year approached the council and offered to take the lead on the study into the new theatre/cinema.

The money for the project comes from a social enterprise grant fund set up last year through the council’s Invest in Renfrewshire programme to support business and create employment.

Councillors on the Economy and Jobs Board this week approved the award of an additional £100k to extend the grant scheme for another year until 2017.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “We are taking forward ambitious and far-reaching plans to use Paisley’s internationally-significant heritage and cultural assets to transform the town’s future.

“Paisley is due to lodge its bid for UK City of Culture in 2021 and crucial to that will be boosting the area’s cultural programme, which means we need to consider our venue capacity.

“That bid process is bigger than anything the council can do on its own – it will need the entire community pulling together, which is why we are delighted the Paisley 2021 Trust has volunteered to run with this element of it.

“The social enterprise grant fund has been a big success since it launched last year, with a number of worthy local causes having benefitted to date, and we are delighted to be able to extend that fund to run into 2017.”

Paisley 2021 trustee Gary Kerr added: “We are delighted with the level of support we are receiving from the council at this stage of the project.

“The feasibility study is an exciting development which we hope will demonstrate the viability of a new theatre and cinema in Paisley town centre.

“Our consultants will be speaking to the local community as well as touring groups, performers and agents.

“We hope by the end to have established a demand for it, what shape it should take, and which of the five sites we have earmarked it should be on.”

Other third-sector projects to benefit from the social enterprise small grants scheme since it was set up last year include Crisis Counselling, Erskine Music and Media Studio, Scottish Huntington’s Association and KipCo Kilbarchan Improvement Projects.

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Town could get new theatre and cinema for City of Culture bid

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Paisley could be in line for a new theatre and cinema as part of ambitious plans connected to the proposed bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

A new group – called Paisley 2021 Community Trust – has been formed with the aim of working with Renfrewshire Council on plans for the new venue.

A feasibility study into new theatre space was one of the flagship projects outlined in the Paisley Heritage Regeneration Strategy unveiled by the council earlier this year, which aims to use culture to transform the town over the next decade.

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The trust – which has just secured incorporated charity status – is now developing ideas and a business case for the possible theatre and cinema.

They will also be speaking to key partners over how the facility could be delivered, as well as developing a funding strategy.

The new body will be chaired by asset management expert Gary Kerr, with computer games entrepreneur Andy Campbell and PACE Theatre director David Wallace as trustees.

Gary Kerr, who runs local firm EPM Solutions, said: “When the council unveiled the Paisley Heritage Regeneration Strategy earlier this year, they asked for community groups to come forward and take part in the process.

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“We have offered to look at that strand of the strategy because we are very committed to the idea of a theatre and cinema in Paisley town centre.

“It is something that Paisley should have as part of the City of Culture bid, and we are really passionate about what this idea could become.

“We would stress these plans are at a very early stage, no sites have yet been earmarked, and substantial funding will be needed.

“But the first step will be to speak to key stakeholders to see where the facility could be and what should be in it.”

Other flagship projects discussed as part of the Paisley Heritage Regeneration Strategy include a major refurbishment of Paisley Museum and the creation of a Paisley Fashion and Design Centre on the High Street.

Experts estimate if the plans were to come to fruition, they would boost the local economy by £45m a year and create up to 800 new jobs.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan added: “Although the council is taking forward the heritage strategy and UK City of Culture bid, we have always said the regeneration process is bigger than anything we can do on our own – it will only happen if Paisley’s people and institutions get behind it and help us make it happen.

“So we want the community to share ownership of the plans and I commend Gary, Andy and David for being willing to put themselves forward and do that.

“Council staff will now be working with the Paisley 2021 Community Trust on more detailed work into the feasibility of a theatre and cinema in the town centre.

“I believe Paisley has the potential to become a centre of excellence in creative industries, and that a new theatre could help host the explosion in activity a City of Culture bid will bring.

“Plus, Paisley’s heritage is at the heart of what we will be selling to the world and one element of that is the town’s rich history of cinema.

“Many people will have fond memories of venues such as the old Kelburne – but with no dedicated cinema in the town centre since it shut in 1997, it would be great to see a facility for future generations to enjoy.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]