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A first-of-its kind study with radical ideas for how Paisley town centre could look in a decade has been published – and aims to start a conversation about what might be possible in the town.

The ‘Vision for Paisley Town Centre 2030’ is the result of a unique link-up between Renfrewshire Council, the Scottish Government and Scotland’s Town Partnership – and uses Paisley as a test case for a series of bold ideas imagining how empty retail space could be better used

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Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, will officially unveil the report at an event in the town centre today.

The study – produced by Glasgow-based Threesixty Architecture – is based on the idea changes to the way people shop have left towns like Paisley with far more retail space than they need

The authors lay out a series of radical ideas for how the town could be rebalanced to better meet community need – bringing with it new life and footfall. Their suggestions include:

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– introducing hundreds of new town centre residents, including repurposing the Paisley Centre shopping centre into a new residential quarter with ground-floor retail;

– new ‘attractors’ such as a High Street cinema, or European-style food hall housing independent food and drink businesses;

– bolstering remaining retail by concentrating it back on to the High Street and street-fronts;

– new public spaces for outdoor activity, and new lanes and streets creating new views and routes to ‘hidden’ parts of the town centre

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– how key vacant historic buildings such as the Liberal Club, YMCA building and TA Building could be brought back into use;

– other ideas such as shared office spaces or makers’ spaces, a new hotel, and relocating parts of university and college campuses into the heart of the town centre;

Cabinet Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “This study represents another significant milestone in the regeneration of Paisley and is further evidence of the ambition and commitment of the local community and partners.

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“A huge opportunity now exists to use this collaborative vision to create more positive change in the town, as well as sharing learning which can benefit other town centres and communities across Scotland.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work in partnership with local government to support the regeneration of our towns and high streets.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “The way people shop has changed forever, and towns everywhere are seeing the same issues with empty retail space.

“We can’t turn the clock back but we can consider how we could change to attract new life and footfall in future – and that’s what Paisley is doing.

“It’s important to stress these are not concrete plans – they are a set of ideas designed to spark a conversation about what might be possible over the next decade.

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“Paisley town centre is already changing for the better – the number of new cafes and restaurants and new housing built in recent years shows it is recognised as a good place to live and invest.

“Current and future council investment will make Paisley even more attractive to the private sector, but change of the scale imagined by the Vision could not be achieved by the council alone – so we want to hear from developers who could make that next stage of the journey happen.”

The contents of the report build on work already happening to use Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage story to transform its future through the Future Paisley programme, which aims to build on the momentum created by the town’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

That includes a £100m investment in the town’s venues and outdoor spaces, including turning Paisley Museum into a world-class destination for the town’s internationally-significant collections, which last week saw £3.8m of funding confirmed from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Paisley is already finding new uses for vacant High Street spaces – construction will start soon to bring a formerly-empty retail unit back into use as a new learning and cultural hub housing library services, for which the first images have just been revealed.

That will build on the success of Paisley: The Secret Collection – the UK’s first publicly-accessible High Street museum store, which opened in 2017 – showing Paisley’s ambitions to put culture at the heart of its future high street are already being realised.

The Paisley Vision was produced after gathering feedback from key local partners – including community groups, businesses, educational establishments and private developers.

The idea for a High Street cinema is already being taken forward by a local group – the Paisley Community Trust – who, with support from the council, are developing their own plans to convert an existing building for that purpose.

Gary Kerr, chair of the Paisley Community Trust, said: ““It’s exciting to see such a transformational and radical vision for Paisley’s future revealed. Paisley Community Trust fully back this new vision for Paisley and we congratulate Threesixty Architecture on producing a superb piece of work.

“It’s particularly encouraging to see cinema at the forefront of the vision. This completely aligns with our current plans to bring cinema back to the heart of our town.

“We believe a cinema by and for our community is a vital first step in realising the wider vision for regeneration in the town centre. It’s Project One if you like.

“We’ve been working behind the scenes on it for a while now and will reveal more details very soon. We also look forward to seeing the other concepts from the vision being explored and developed into regeneration projects of their own in the years ahead.”

Colette Cardosi, chair of town centre business improvement district Paisley First, added: “In recent years, Paisley has found itself firmly back on the map with fantastic events for visitors and a growing number of independent businesses.

“However, like many towns throughout the country, we need to continuously adapt and evolve and Paisley First welcomes collaboration on any long-term strategy for the future which can help bring in new investment and new footfall to local businesses in Paisley town centre.”

Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, added: “Paisley has a rich tapestry of heritage and culture, is steeped in industry and tradition, and has many major assets.

“We hope this exciting blueprint can create a high street fit for 21st century citizens and Paisley can become an exemplar for other large towns across Scotland.”

Alan Anthony, managing director of Threesixty Architecture, who authored the Vision, said: “This study shows a people-first approach that reconnects the whole community to their town centre.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to rebalance our High Street back to a place with a rich mix of uses. As a lifelong Paisley Buddy, it’s exciting to think Paisley could lead the way on town centre regeneration in Scotland.”

The council now hopes to hear from developers who are interested in investing in Paisley – with one firm which has already done so believing a template for success already exists.

Brian Clark, managing director of Park Lane Developments, said: “We believe  Park Lane’s partnership with Renfrewshire Council on the regeneration of the former Arnotts department store has already shown the way for how the public and private sector can work together to transform a town centre site.

“That project has already delivered 67 completed private and social rented housing along with the welcome addition of the Pendulum restaurant. The final phase is just about to go for planning and will bring an additional 70  new homes.

“The site was derelict for 10 years and is now back in beneficial use bringing new residents and activity back into the town centre – and shows the potential that exists in Paisley as a place to live and invest.”

Residents and businesses have the chance to see and give their views on the Paisley Vision plans for themselves at a public exhibition open in POP (the former Post Office) in the town’s Piazza shopping centre – on Friday 24 (1 to 4.30pm), Saturday 25 (9.30am to 4.30pm) and Monday 27 January (9.30am to 3pm).

The full report can also be viewed online at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/paisleyvision, along with a Q&A which goes into more details on the ideas it contains and what happens next.

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MORE than 200 Scottish traditional music fans and people who like a dance will be waltzing into Johnstone Town Hall after every ticket for two events at the popular venue was snapped up.

Both the Festive Tea Dance being held on the afternoon of Saturday, December 28 and a Family Ceilidh later in the evening have sold out.

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The popular Tea Dance gives people a chance to meet up with friends, have a chat and enjoy a two-step or more around the dance floor. The music is being provided by John Findlay, on the keyboard.

There will be a variety of dancing from ballroom to country and western line dancing.

The Festive Family Ceilidh features an evening of toe-tapping traditional Scottish music and the usual round of ceilidh dances.

Chairperson at Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “Very soon after we began promoting the ceilidh and tea dance all the tickets were snapped up.

“There will be around 100 lucky ticket holders at each event and we had lots of people wanting to come along even after all the tickets had been sold.

“I’m sure everyone will have a great time and it’s a fun way to round off the old year of 2019.”

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THE fitness suite at Paisley’s Lagoon Leisure Centre re-opened on Monday after a £180,000 refurbishment.

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The gym had been closed for a makeover with more than 40 new pieces of fitness equipment including three stair climbers and a large functional rig.

And to let people see the new-look and upgraded gym, an Open Weekend is being held on Saturday and Sunday 7 and 8 December.

Anyone can come along to the gym for free and try out the new fitness machines, book a place at one of the fitness classes and take part in an exercise class in the gym being held every hour from 9am until 3pm.

There are also two special offers to coincide with the new-look Lagoon gym. You can take out any pay monthly membership in December with a reduced first payment of £10 and two people can get a gym-only six-month membership that gives them access to Renfrewshire Leisure’s six fitness suites for only £179.

Call Renfrewshire Leisure’s membership team on 0300 300 0250 or visit your local leisure centre for more information.

Head of Leisure and community services, Mark Tokeley said: “We’re really pleased with the way the refurbishment has gone. And I’m sure the members will be also be impressed with their new-look facility.”

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THE fitness suite at Paisley’s Lagoon Leisure Centre is to have a £180,000 refurbishment.

There will be 43 new pieces of fitness equipment installed with a larger general exercise area and the gym will be given a fresh new look.

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The gym will be closed for a week from Sunday, November 24 until Sunday, December 1 to allow the work to be completed.

And to celebrate the new-look and upgraded gym re-opening, an Open Weekend is being held on Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8.

Anyone can come along to the gym and try out the new fitness machines for free, book a place at one of the fitness classes and take part in an exercise class in the gym being held every hour from 9am until 3pm.

There are also two special offers to coincide with the new-look Lagoon gym. Anyone taking out a monthly membership in December 19 will only have to pay a reduced joining fee of £10 – a saving of £20. And two people can get a  six-month gym-only membership that gives them access to Renfrewshire Leisure’s six fitness suites for only £179.

Call our memberships team on 0300 300 0250 or visit one of our centres to find out more.

Head of Leisure and community services, Mark Tokeley said: “We’re always looking at ways of giving our gym members even greater value for money by providing top-class fitness facilities.

“By refurbishing the Lagoon gym anyone coming along can’t help but be impressed at the standard of the equipment they will have to use.”

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A luxury spa in Paisley is celebrating its seventh birthday – by giving every else a present!

Eve Spa, in The Lagoon Leisure Centre is hosting as special three-day birthday party on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 7,8 and 9.

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Between 10am and 8pm on Thursday and Friday and between 10am and 5pm on Saturday there will be complimentary drinks and nibbles along with the obligatory slice of birthday cake for everyone.

There is also a host of special birthday offers. Clients who book a £30 VIP treatment will get a free gift and £20 back to spend on a minimum of two beauty products.

The VIP treatments people can choose from include a Caudalie Express 30-minute facial; Caudalie Fleur de Vigne 25-minute back massage; Ishga Express 30-minute facial; Ishga salt and oil 30-minute scrub and a Comfort Zone Express 30-minute facial.

The spa’s Thermal Experience can be added on to any of the birthday treatments booked for only £5.

For the whole of this birthday week until Saturday Gel Fingers will only cost £11 and Fake Bake Spray Tans will be £10.

Log on to www.eve-spa.co.uk for more information or call 0300 300 0266. Advanced booking is advised.

PARENTS can bring their babies along to fitness classes run by Renfrewshire Leisure.

There are more than 60 classes in the new fitness timetable where mums or dads can have their babies sitting in a buggy or car seat alongside them as they work out.

Classes including Body Pump, Body Attack, Zumba, Vibe Spin Disco, Metafit and Spin Cycle Training are now buggy friendly.

These classes take place at The Lagoon Leisure Centre, in Paisley, Linwood’s ON-X, Erskine Sports Centre, Renfrew Leisure Centre, Johnstone Sports Hub and Ralston Community Sports Centre.

Anyone interested should log on to www.renfrewshireleisure.com and look out for the dark blue buggy logo on the timetable to see when the buggy friendly classes are being held.

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “This is an ideal opportunity for new mums and dads – or even grannies and grandpas looking after their grandchildren – to maintain their fitness without the extra cost of childcare.

“It can be difficult for mums getting back into a normal fitness routine after having a baby.

“Also, babysitters can be hard to find during the day when family and friends are at work. So, we’re giving mums and dads the option of bringing their babies along with them.

“Of course, you don’t need to bring a baby along to join the classes, as everyone is welcome!”

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JENNIFER Wilkie fears that one day she will be completely deaf.

But the 29-year-old from Paisley is determined that if and when that day comes she’ll be prepared and still be able to communicate.

Jennifer has joined Renfrewshire Leisure’s Sign Language Club, which meets several times a week at Paisley Arts Centre.

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She is joined by dozens of other people who want to learn British Sign Language (BSL) in a fun and relaxing way.

An Early Years Excellence and Equity Lead, at a local children’s centre, Jennifer explains:

“My main reason for learning BSL is to prepare me for the day I don’t have any hearing at all.

“I have profound hearing loss that is helped by two hearing aids, which I use every day and I can’t function without them.

“My hearing has slowly become worse over the years and there is no way of knowing if I will lose all my hearing and when this might happen.”

She continues: “It became apparent when I was young that I had hearing problems, but no one knows what has caused my deafness.

“I joined the Sign Language Club so I can communicate with people if my hearing ever goes completely. My mum comes to the club with me and we both pass on what we have learned to our family, so if the day ever comes that I am completely deaf, they will be able to communicate with me as well.”

Jennifer is urging other people to join the Sign Language Club and learn BSL from profoundly deaf tutor Graham Dow and BSL qualified David O’Rorke.

She says: “I would encourage everyone to come along and learn BSL. It’s such an essential skill to have to allow everyone to communicate and to lessen the barriers for deaf people.

“Graham and David who run the classes are very motivational, but make the classes very relaxed for everyone. The have inspired me to learn even more about sign language and I want to go on to gain a BSL qualification”

A new family BSL group has recently been started at Paisley Arts Centre, every Saturday, between noon and 1pm. Beginners meet on a Saturday, between 11am and noon and a Monday between 7pm and 8pm. The intermediate group meets on a Monday between 6pm and 7pm.

Anyone interested in coming along to the Sign Language Group should contact Emma Armstrong, on 0300 300 1210.

FOUR young women are living the dream after achieving their goal of having a career in sport.

From left, Amie Couttie, Tammy Johnston, Erin Campbell and Samantha Duncan

They have gone from volunteering to help run sports activities while they were still at school, studying for qualifications at college and university to now becoming successful sports coaches as Renfrewshire Leisure Active Schools Co-ordinators.

During Scotland’s Women and Girls in Sport Week – September 28 to October 4 – Amy Couttie, Samantha Duncan, Tammy Johnston and Erin Campbell revealed the role of the staff and coaching initiatives from Renfrewshire Leisure had in helping them achieve their “dream job” in sport.

 Tammy Johnston was just four when she started competing in Irish dancing competitions and as she got older, Tammy began coaching younger dancers.

“This was when I discovered my love of teaching and leadership,” she says.

“Then, when I was in secondary school I came across my Active Schools Co-ordinator and it wasn’t long before I was going to primary schools delivering activities during Health Week.

“After I’d taken part in the Renfrewshire School of Sport Education programme I realised I wanted to pursue a career as an Active Schools Co-ordinator.

“I volunteered to work more than 300 hours during the programme and the Active Schools team helped me develop my confidence, leadership and core coaching skills.”

While Tammy was at university studying for a Sports Development degree, she became a sessional coach with Active Schools and ran an after-school club for participants with addition support needs.

Tammy, 21, from Paisley is now a full-time Active Schools Co-ordinator and she says: “The aims of increasing participation in sport for everyone is something I am really passionate about.

“I love walking into schools and feeling I am making a difference to young people’s lives. I was just 13 when I decided this is what I wanted to do and I never thought I would be where I am today working in my dream job.”

Amy Couttie, 24, from Howwood, in Renfrewshire explains: “My journey began when I was 14 and I volunteered to help run sports clubs in my local primary school.

“After four years of coaching in schools and extra-curricular clubs, Renfrewshire Leisure gave me a job as a sessional sports coach.

“I was dedicated to my role with Renfrewshire Leisure and after graduating with a BSc in Sports Coaching, I was focussed on pursuing a full-time career doing something I loved.”

Amy adds: “That’s now happened, as I’ve recently been given a role with Renfrewshire Leisure as an Active Schools and Community Club Development Officer.

“I’m on cloud nine that I’ve managed to get a full-time job in Active Schools – the place where I started my journey in sport.”

Samantha Duncan, 23, from Linwood got her passion for sport through her dance background and being a competitive street dancer. She came fifth in the World Championships and made the semi-final of the European championships.

She says: “My experiences and a passion for sport made me understand the positive impact sport can have on people’s lives.

“So, I continued my journey by taking a Sports Leaders course at school and completed the Renfrewshire School of Sport Education programme.

“Throughout my studies at college and university where I gained a degree in Sports Development, I volunteered as a coach with the Active Schools programme promoting and developing dance and gymnastics to young people.

“I’m now a full-time Active Schools Co-ordinator with Renfrewshire Leisure and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given over the years. Sport is a massive part of my life and it has shaped me into a confident individual.

“My dream has become a reality and I can now support young people who aspire to make a difference and help them have a career in sport – just like me.”

Erin Campbell, 23, from Houston, Renfrewshire was a sports fanatic from an early age and joined as many sports clubs as she could while at primary school. She then went on to represent Scotland playing basketball in several age groups.

Erin’s involvement with Renfrewshire’s Active Schools programme began while she was in her third year at university studying for a degree in Sport and Physical Activity.

She explains: “I had to arrange a work placement as part of the course and my local Active Schools programme seemed like the ideal place as I’d always had an interest in what it does.

“This gave me valuable experience and I’ve now got a full-time job as an Active Schools Co-ordinator.”

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “What Amy, Samantha, Tammy and Erin have achieved is nothing short of inspirational. They can be rightly proud of their achievements. We’re also proud of them and what we’ve done to help them on their journey.

“Their stories show that girls and young women can achieve their dreams of working in a sports-related job and you can be sure Renfrewshire Leisure will be here to help the up-and-coming sports coaches and organisers of the future – just like we helped Amy, Samantha, Tammy and Erin.”

YOUNGSTERS can have lots of fun and games during the October school holidays.

Renfrewshire Leisure is running a series of activity camps for children in Primaries 1 to 7 at the Lagoon Leisure Centre, Johnstone Sports Hub, Renfrew Sports Centre and Park Mains, in Erskine.

These take place daily between Monday, October 14 and Friday, October 18.

There will be lots of different activities to keep youngsters amused and active during the school break including a variety of sports, arts and crafts, swimming, games and themed days.

There will also be a football camp at Renfrew’s KGV Pavilion and Gryffe High School, in association with the Scottish Football Association as well as outdoor activities that include mountain biking, raft building and kayaking.

And on Sunday, October 20, at the Lagoon there will be a Disability Bounce About A Bit Event! This event is open to anyone with a physical disability, sensory impairment and or learning disability.

Soft drinks and snacks will be provided for the participants, who must be accompanied by an adult who will receive free tea or coffee.

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “Our activity camps and hugely popular and it’s best to book early so your child is guaranteed a place.

“There’s a huge range of activities and one thing’s for sure – anyone who comes along will have a fun time.”

To book a place log on to www.renfrewshire-leisure.class4kids.co.uk/camps or by calling 0300 300 0250.