Renfrewshire Council Leader, Mark Macmillan, has requested the Scottish Government make Paisley Town Centre a pilot area for a range of innovative initiatives which would help to reinvigorate the town and surrounding areas.
Councillor Macmillan has written to Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing, following a meeting during the Scottish Town Planning Institute annual conference which took place in Paisley earlier this month. This gathering of planning experts from across Scotland coincided with the launch of Renfrewshire Council’s Economic Framework (REF) and Paisley Town Centre – 10 Year Action Plan (PTCAP) strategies.
Both documents have a key role to play in the Council’s commitment to building a better Renfrewshire for all through the delivery of economic regeneration and its associated social benefits.
The PTCAP is an ambitious ten year programme of investment to re-invent Scotland’s largest town centre which will drive economic growth and inward investment in the town and across Renfrewshire as a whole.
To support the objectives of the PTCAP, Councillor Macmillan is urging the Scottish Government to make Paisley a pilot Town Centre Incentivisation Zone and test a number of initiatives designed to stimulate economic growth.
The request included a number of suggestions, such as:
- Business rates
- Creation of a ‘town centre regeneration fund’ by allowing local authorities to keep an agreed percentage of current business rates (NDR) within the Incentivisation Zone for a set period, together with any additional NDR payable during this period from new occupants
- Change regulation to make vacant listed buildings liable for business rates
- Allow local authorities to retain a proportion of additional business rates from listed buildings within the incentivisation zone so they are liable for rates whether occupied or vacant
- Offer a VAT exemption for the refurbishment of property within the pilot zone
- Establish a ‘housing regeneration fund’ targeted at vacant buildings in the pilot zone to allow scale to be achieved to entice housing developers to create new housing in town centres
Councillor Macmillan said: “Paisley has the potential to be the driver for economic growth across the whole of Renfrewshire. It is Scotland’s largest town centre, boasting the country’s fourth busiest railway station and one of the highest concentrations of listed buildings.
“The request I have made of the Scottish Government would support our own commitment and ambitious plans for the regeneration of Paisley and Renfrewshire. Each of the proposals we have submitted is designed to support long-term growth and investment through a mix of housing and business investment.
“Also, for a town with such a proud and extensive built heritage as Paisley, these proposals have the potential to play a vital role in protecting our heritage assets which, for too long, have been left neglected.”
Renfrewshire Council is currently conducting a consultation for local people and businesses to have their say on the REF and PTCAP strategies.
The PTCAP will see four areas in the town centre revamped. These are the Gilmour Street Gateway, High Street and UWS Campus, Abbey and River Precinct, and Improving Connections between the town centre and surrounding areas.
The REF sets out a clear strategy for establishing the region as an attractive place to live, work and visit, emphasising that Renfrewshire is open for business. It contains 10 near term strategic priorities which will create more and better jobs through supporting growing businesses, attracting new investment and ensuring the foundations are in place to sustain that growth in the long term.
The consultation period will culminate with two public events at Paisley Town Hall on Thursday November 3 (from 11.30am to 2.30pm) and Wednesday 9 November (from 5.30pm to 7.30pm).
Members of the public are encouraged to attend the events but can also provide feedback by completing the Council’s short survey at: www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/haveyoursay
The consultation period ends on Thursday 10th November 2016.