A group of global economics advisors are visiting Paisley to study ambitious multi-million-pound proposals to use culture and heritage to transform the town’s future.
A team from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) flew in to Renfrewshire for a two-day study mission to examine how the plans will work.
The Paisley Town Centre Heritage Asset Strategy – agreed by Renfrewshire Council last year – aims to use the town’s internationally-significant heritage and cultural assets to drive regeneration, and includes a bid for UK City of Culture status in 2021.
As part of this process, the OECD visited Paisley to see for themselves the ambitious plans for the future of the town and to advise on how the implementation can impact on the wellbeing and prosperity of residents.
The OECD promotes policies that will improve the economic and social well being of people around the world and their engagement in Paisley confirms the significance of its regeneration plans.
Paisley is now part of OECD’s Local Economic and Employment Development programme, meaning the town can tap into expertise from five continents on the economic and social issues facing it.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “For us to be hosting the team from OECD is proof that the work we are doing here in Paisley is making people sit up and take notice at a high level.
“What we have set out to achieve is ambitious and we are confident that it will stand up and benefit from the scrutiny which OECD will bring.
“OECD will help us to make the most of what we have got and focus our energies on the projects and programmes that will make the biggest impact on the lives of people Paisley.
“We are home to the second-highest concentration of listed buildings in Scotland, plus our historic place at the heart of the global textile industry and our thriving events, arts and cultural scene make Paisley unique.
“We are using these assets as the engine to drive regeneration throughout Renfrewshire and the OECD will help us to maximise the impact of this work.”
The Paisley Town Centre Heritage Asset Strategy aims to transform the town into one of the key destinations on Scotland’s cultural and tourism map.
The proposals include the redevelopment of Paisley Museum into a national museum of textile and costume, the building of a Paisley Fashion and Design centre on the town’s High Street, a study into a new 300-seat theatre space and a bid for UK City of Culture status in 2021.
These signature projects sit alongside plans for an expansion of the area’s existing cultural and events programme. All of this has the potential to create 800 jobs, contribute an extra £45m a year to the local economy and improve the wellbeing of the community.
The OECD team will review the current platform for regeneration set by PTCHAS and assess how the economic and social benefits of the delivery programme can be optimised, including how complementary programmes run by community planning partners and national organisations can be aligned.
This is the first of three visits by the OECD taking place throughout 2015, culminating in the delivery of a final report and recommendations.