Experts on regeneration from around the UK visited Paisley to consider how ambitious proposals to transform the town can be brought to life.

Earlier this year, Renfrewshire Council published plans for a multi-million pound investment to harness the power of the town’s rich heritage to drive tourism.

If fully realised, the Paisley Heritage Regeneration Strategy could be worth an additional £45m per year to the local economy, create 800 jobs, and pave the way for a UK City of Culture bid.

Key projects under discussion include a £50m revamp of Paisley Museum and the creation of a Paisley Fashion and Design Centre on the High Street, shaped around the town’s rich textile heritage.

Other recommendations include work to investigate whether Paisley’s industrial legacy could be eligible for UNESCO World Heritage Status, and the building of a new theatre space.

As the first step, a team of experts has been brought on board to advise council staff on how to turn the strategy’s vision into a reality.

They include senior figures from other cities which have successfully pursued heritage-led regeneration in recent years, including the head of Derry-Londonderry’s staff for UK City of Culture 2013.

The team – including experts on funding, heritage, marketing and tourism – gathered in Paisley for a two-day visit which took in a tour of key sites in the town.

They were joined by Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan, who said: “The Paisley Heritage Regeneration Strategy could be one of the most significant things to happen to the area in a long time.

“The ideas it outlines are a bold statement of intent as to where Paisley could be if we attract the right investment in the outstanding assets we already have.

“Tourism experts describe Paisley’s heritage and cultural offering as being undersold and of international importance, and what we are doing here is geared towards maximising our potential.

“But before we embark on a project of such size and importance, we need to make sure we are getting the best advice as to how to move things forward.

“That is why we are trying to benefit from the experience of people who have already delivered lasting success on major regeneration projects in other UK cities.

“Of course this is a project which will ultimately be led by the people of Paisley – this type of change can only be delivered by the local community working as one.

“Over the months ahead, we will be looking at the best ways to bring all interested groups on board. I am excited by what lies in store for Paisley and Renfrewshire.”

Over the past few weeks, council managers have been touring local organisations to provide detail and generate support for the contents of the strategy.

The next stage for the council is compile a series of outline business cases showing how each strand could be funded and built.

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

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By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News