£100m town centre investment moves forward as public realm transformation sites revealed

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Plans to bring new life to Paisley town centre by transforming key outdoor areas have been revealed, as the ongoing £100m investment in the town’s venues and infrastructure moves forward.

Renfrewshire Council is leading the investment as part of wider plans to transform the area’s future using its internationally-significant cultural and heritage story.
Work to turn key venues including Paisley Museum and Town Hall into 21st-century facilities hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors a year is well under way – and will be complemented by a £10m investment to improve the outdoor streetscape and transport links.

The plans – aimed at driving new footfall and boosting the evening economy by growing the area’s already-successful events programme and creating more attractive spaces to keep visitors, students and workers in the town – include:
– unlocking the enormous potential of the area around Abbey Close by creating a larger and more flexible events and gathering space around the Abbey, town hall and river, including improvements to the Abbey Green;

– a new and improved town gateway in County Square – creating a decluttered town square to welcome visitors and expand events capacity, and create a more attractive space for pavement cafes and people to dwell;
Details have also been revealed for major improvements to the town’s transport infrastructure, with upgrades to key road junctions at Mill St/Glasgow Rd, Mill St/Lonend, Canal St/Causeyside St and Renfrew Rd/Mill St/Incle St.
The aim is to improve traffic flow and road safety, while linking the town centre to its surroundings by making it easier to walk or cycle into the heart of the town and creating a better sense of arrival for people visiting Paisley’s attractions.
The projects will go to public consultation next year, followed by a detailed design phase. There will also be a feasibility study to look at further-reaching longer-term changes to the town’s road system.
The council last year set aside £10m for the above public realm projects but wants to top that up by applying to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.
Councillors on the leadership board will be asked to approve that application when they meet next Wednesday (19 Sept), where they will also be updated on other projects in the £100m investment.
That includes the £42m transformation of Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based around the town’s unique heritage and collections, and the £22m plans to preserve Paisley Town Hall’s place at the heart of life in the town by becoming a landmark performance venue.
The museum is planned to close later this month and reopen in 2022, and the town hall will close at the end of the year and reopen in 2021.
Other projects coming in the next few years include a new learning and cultural hub offering library services on the heart of the High St, and a refurbishment of Paisley Arts Centre.
Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “Our £100m investment in Paisley town centre is the backbone of everything which will happen in the next stage of our regeneration journey, the benefits of which will be felt around the whole Renfrewshire area.
“Over the next few years, we will transform our unique and much-loved venues into 21st-century facilities to host the expansion of events, visitors and activity the area will be at the centre of – we are also this week revealing plans to grow the capacity of Renfrewshire’s independent creative sector through a new fund.
“We have already seen investment in culture deliver results – with visitor numbers and attendees at our already-successful major events programme on the up, and the UK City of Culture bid boosting the town’s profile, reputation and self-confidence.
“And put simply – it’s the way we have to go. Changes in the way people shop mean town centres everywhere have to reinvent themselves. We cannot turn the clock back but we can create a vibrant destination around our unique culture, heritage and events, and that is what we are doing.
“The public realm projects we are revealing details of today are key to that – they will create key outdoor spaces allowing our already-successful major events to be even bigger and better.
“At the same time, Paisley already has large populations of students and workers, and a growing number of visitors – this investment will support traders by creating more attractive spaces which encourage them to spend more time and money here.
“And the improvements to the transport infrastructure will make the town easier to get around and through, while we look at a longer-term masterplan to improve the road system further.”
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