AMBITIOUS £30million plans to revamp Paisley’s cultural hotspots will be considered by councillors today.
Paisley Vision is behind the 10-year project, which will transform the town hall, central library and the museum and art galleries.
Today, the Paisley Daily Express can reveal more details of the plans, which council chiefs insist will bring extra visitors to the town.
The blueprint would see:
l A modernised Paisley Library being moved to the north wing of the town hall.
l The town hall being upgraded, improved and modernised into a more flexible space which can be used as a major event venue.
l The existing library and museum and art galleries being transformed into a contemporary cultural centre which will include an archive, shop, cafe/bar and a 175-seat performance and film theatre.
l And a ‘tunnel’ being built to link the new cultural centre in High Street with Coats Observatory at Oakshaw Street West.
In addition, off-site storage will be built to house artefacts that are not on display.
The next stage of the project is to raise funding and work on securing planning approval.
Architects Page/Park were asked to carry out a feasibility study to look in detail at how the work would be done, where the money would come from and whether the project is worthwhile.
And, in a report to be considered by councillors on Renfrewshire’s planning and economic development committee today, the architects conclude that the plan is feasible.
Council leader Derek Mackay, who is also chair of the Paisley Vision Board, said: “Over the years, it has been acknowledged that there has been significant under-investment in three of the council’s most recognisable buildings – Paisley Town Hall, Paisley Library and Paisley Museum and Art Galleries.
“We wanted to realise the potential of these fine buildings and see just how much it would take to transform them into a cultural destination point which could be the focus for attracting visitors to the town.
“Paisley Art Galleries recently attracted nearly 4,000 visitors to the Alexander Goudie Exhibition but the museum complex itself is no longer fit for purpose, so we commissioned a pre-feasibility study to establish just what could be done to enhance the facility for years to come.
“These are hugely ambitious plans but I do not think for one minute they are merely a pipe dream.”
Efforts to attract millions of pounds worth of funding for the project will be made in the next two to three years.
Work on creating the cultural centre will take longer and be part of a long-term strategy.
Councillor Mackay added: “This is the starting pistol. We want to unveil our vision and now we need to source funding.
“I believe that this report can form the basis for a discussion with funding partners like Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund in creating a nationally important centre for culture here in Paisley.
“There has been so much going on in the last year to improve the town centre and make it more attractive as a place in which to work and live that I believe we need the vision to see this through properly with a bit of foresight, courage and ambition.
“I believe it will contribute to the continuing regeneration of the town centre, increasing the number of visitors to the town attracted by a wider range of cultural offerings, it will create contemporary facilities that meet the aspirations of the town and will also look after the legacy of these iconic buildings.”