Ambitious plans to transform Paisley’s future revealed.
Paisley could be in line for a multi-million pound transformation after an ambitious and far-reaching masterplan for the town’s future was unveiled.
Councillors will next week discuss the contents of a detailed strategy aimed at using the town’s considerable heritage assets to maximise its tourist potential in the years ahead.
The report describes Paisley’s heritage offerings – including more than 100 listed buildings, rare books and paintings, and the finest Paisley Shawl collection in the world – as being of ‘international interest and significance’.
It is estimated the proposed developments could increase Paisley’s tourist economy performance by £45m a year, and create around 800 new jobs for the area.
If delivered, Paisley would then be in a position to bid for UK City of Culture status in 2021.
That would include further use of the town centre as a host venue for events – such as the Monte Carlo Classic Car Rally, which is set to attract a crowd of thousands to the town tonight (Thursday 23 January).
The Paisley Town Centre Heritage Strategy was written after the council commissioned a team of experts to consider how the town’s rich history could be used to drive its long-term regeneration.
Key recommendations in the strategy include:
– a multi-million-pound revamp of Paisley Museum to create a nationally-recognised Museum of Textiles, Fashion, Costume and Design;
– the creation of a Paisley Fashion and Design Centre, amid other improvements to the town centre to improve the visitor experience;
– work to investigate whether Paisley’s industrial legacy could be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The report also recommends work to ‘tell the story’ of Paisley to visitors and develop a programme of cultural activity around existing assets, which takes in a thriving arts and cultural scene, including the UK’s largest youth theatre.
Initial estimates put the scale of investment suggested by the report at £90m.
Should the town bid for UK City of Culture status – which is open to large towns and urban areas – Paisley would be attempting to follow in the footsteps of Derry-Londonderry, Hull and Dundee, all of which have successfully pursued heritage-led regeneration strategies in recent years.
Members of the Economy and Jobs Policy Board are due to consider several recommendations relating to the report.
If approved, council officers will start work on a series of business cases to determine the costs and feasibility of the recommendations, and identify possible routes for external funding.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “This report is the culmination of months of work to determine how Paisley could best use its rich heritage to build a better future for the area.
“It was written after extensive consultation with a wide range of groups, locally and elsewhere.
“It shows that Paisley offers a tremendous range of valuable and unique cultural attractions and suggests how – with the right investment – we could use that to transform our future.
“We already have lots of good work going on – such as last year’s £2.4m revamp of Paisley Town Hall, the £2m secured to transform the Russell Institute and development starting on the Arnotts site in the town centre, as well the continued success of our growing events portfolio – but we don’t want to stop there.
“These plans are a bold statement of where we want to be, and we shouldn’t be afraid to think big.
“I want the area’s future to be one where it reaches its full potential and we should explore all options to make that happen.
“Of course, the benefits would not be restricted to Paisley – the study’s findings show that investment in Paisley’s existing assets would bring a significant economic boost to all of Renfrewshire.
“As it stands, things are at a very early stage. Should this initial approach be approved, detailed proposals will be developed for councillors to consider at a later date.”
The Board will meet to discuss the plans on Wednesday 29 January.
Photographs and article courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.