Paisley 2030 – A New Vision
Cast your mind ten years ahead… What might Paisley town centre look like? Perhaps you could step out your home in the new residential quarter at the heart of town, wander through widened streets and outdoor spaces designed for people, or pop into some of the thriving independent traders on the freshly repopulated High Street.
Then, as night-time descends, you sample a range of delicious street food in the town’s new continental food hall, before catching the latest film in its High Street cinema, eventually heading off to one of the many nearby late-night bars.
Sound good? That’s the future imagined by the authors of A Vision for Paisley 2030 – a new report containing some radical ideas for how the town centre could evolve.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH TOWN CENTRES?
Town centres matter – they are the front rooms of the community and shape how people feel about them. That’s true of Paisley – Buddies have fond memories of the bustling High St of days gone by but it would be fair to say the current version pales in comparison.
However, we can’t turn the clock back – town centres everywhere are facing the same issues, caused by changes to the way people shop. 20% of retail is now online and the big chains are concentrating on the highest-footfall locations, often purpose-built and out-of-town.
The result is empty retail space where locally-minded commerce had once thrived, no longer needed for what it was built for. The question is, what we can do differently?
WHAT’S PAISLEY DOING ALREADY?
Paisley is using what sets it apart to change the future. As regular Mill Magazine readers will know, the town has loads to offer as a place to live and invest – a great location, transport links and stunning historic buildings, not to mention one of Scotland’s biggest and best major event programmes.
Work is already happening to showcase that, with Renfrewshire Council leading £100m of investment in our venues and outdoor spaces, including the work to turn Paisley Museum into a world-class destination by 2022. Naturally, this will bring increased footfall to the town.
WHAT IS THE PAISLEY VISION?
The Paisley Vision report seeks to build on the above, developed through a first-of-its-kind partnership using Paisley as a test case for solutions to the identified universal issues.
Produced by ThreeSixty Architecture on behalf of Renfrewshire Council, the Scottish Government and Scotland’s Towns Partnership, it was launched at a special event in the town in late-January by Cabinet Secretary Aileen Campbell MSP. It lays out a series of bold ideas for how the town centre might be reshaped and rebalanced to better meet future need, such as:
- Bringing new residents into the town through a mixed-use development on the site of The Paisley Centre, offering commercial space on the ground floor and flats above.
- Concentrating remaining retail (increasingly likely to be niche and independent) and other traders back on to the High Street and other street fronts.
- New attractors such as a cinema and food hall, community facilities like a doctor’s surgery and new business such as makerspaces or a hotel.
- Potential new uses for prominent vacant sites such as the TA Building, YMCA Building and Liberal Club.
- Redesigning streets and spaces around people, outdoor events, clean transport and creating new streets and walkways to open up previously-hidden views.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
It should be stressed that the contents of the report are just ideas and should not be read as concrete plans. They were designed to show what could be possible and spark a conversation among Paisley people about what they want from their town in the future.
For full report and accompanying Q&A, click here. This feature was published in Mill issue 9 March/April 2020.