Investment in Paisley’s heritage buildings and high street is a strong sign that ambitious heritage-led transformation plans are bringing a new lease of life to the town.Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson took a tour round Paisley’s town centre with Head of Regeneration, Alasdair Morrison to see firsthand recent investments in heritage buildings and shop units in the town.
The Council’s ambitious plans to use Paisley’s internationally-significant heritage and cultural assets as part of wider regeneration plans for the area have already seen the town shortlisted for the UK Government’s UK City of Culture 2021 competition.
Regeneration plans are working towards transforming Paisley into a hub of creative and cultural excellence and a world-class visitor destination that will drive investment to the whole of Renfrewshire.
The Leader’s tour began with a visit to the ground floor of the former Arnotts building, now a 120 seat contemporary restaurant Pendulum by the owners of the town’s existing Cardosi’s restaurant, which has benefitted from a new frontage, part-funded by a grant from Renfrewshire Council’s retail improvement scheme.
The former Arnotts department store site has been transformed into new residential apartments on Gauze Street and Lawn Street as part of a joint venture between Park Lane Group and Renfrewshire Council, with work to develop further apartments on Smithhills Street due to commence on site very soon.
At 20 High Street, Councillor Nicolson greeted owner and landlord Mr Hussain who is refurbishing shop units in the King Solomon building, due to open soon. The private sector investment includes fitting both shop units with traditional shop fronts in keeping with Paisley’s heritage-led and cultural ambitions for the town centre.
The shops are next door to the proposed Learning and Cultural Hub at 22 High Street, a £5 million investment funded by Renfrewshire Council and Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.
Up at the top of the High Street, plans to renovate shop frontages to a traditional look is part of a £4 million investment into the Townscape Heritage and Conservation Area Regeneration schemes in the area around the High Street, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and Renfrewshire Council, expected to run until 2021.
Changing the way the area looks and feels and creating a warm welcome for visitors are part of plans behind Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, which will make the most out of County Square and rail connections through Paisley Gilmour Street, the fourth busiest train station in Scotland.
As part of the tour, the Leader also visited Moss Street to see renovations to residential property (14a Moss Street) and works at former Early Learning Centre (5 Moss Street). The tour ended at the magnificent Coats Memorial Church, which is currently in the care of trustees.
Iain Nicolson said: “Our vision for Paisley is a new town centre economy based around heritage and culture as part of wider regeneration plans for the area.
“Being shortlisted in the UK Government’s UK City of Culture 2021 competition is a huge endorsement for the town. The competition has really changed people’s perceptions of the town and we are starting to see investment come into the area, which will drive economic benefits for the whole of Renfrewshire.
“Investment in venues and cultural infrastructure will have a huge effect on the local community, but also attract visitors into the town through our vital transport links – such as the M8, Paisley Gilmour Street, the fourth busiest train station in Scotland, and plans for a bridge from Renfrew to Yoker, funded by Glasgow City Deal.
“In retelling Paisley’s story to the world, we are bringing the past into the present and creating a new era for the town that will attract investment, people and jobs into the area. The work that we will put into submitting our final UK City of Culture 2021 bid to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in September, goes hand in hand with working with businesses, the community and landlords to transform the public space in Paisley.”