Plans to build a 21st-century learning and cultural hub on Paisley High Street are set to take a step closer – with councillors being asked to approve a comprehensive refurbishment of the building.
The council has earmarked a currently-empty retail unit at 22 High St – formerly the Internacionale clothes shop – for a new modern community facility to house the town’s library collection.
Initial plans had looked at demolishing the building and putting in a new structure – while retaining the existing listed façade.
But further detailed surveys of the site and assessment of costs have allowed officers to produce a new solution based on a comprehensive refurbishment of the current building, which can be done within budgets already set aside for the project.
The new facility will be a fully-accessible and digitally-connected space housing the library collections and offering a modern educational resource for the area’s pupils, students and adults in the heart of the High Street – helping drive footfall to the heart of the town.
It will eventually replace the current Paisley Central Library, which will leave its current location next to Paisley Museum in September when the museum closes for a £42m revamp to become an international-class destination based around Paisley’s unique heritage and collections.
Both projects are part of a £100m investment in the town’s venues and infrastructure as part of a wider plan to transform the area’s future using the power of its unique culture and heritage – which also includes internal revamps of Paisley Town Hall and Arts Centre.
Library operators Renfrewshire Leisure will open a temporary facility in the town centre to keep library services running until the new learning and cultural hub opens– expected to be summer 2021.
The learning and cultural hub project is being run by the council in partnership with Hub West Scotland – a Scottish-Government-backed firm who help public-sector bodies get value for money when investing in large infrastructure projects.
The project team will now produce designs for the building, while further site investigation works will continue over the summer. It is expected construction will start in late 2019.
Members of the Leadership Board will be asked to give the green light to the revised plan when they meet on Wednesday.
Council leader Iain Nicolson – who chairs the Leadership Board – said: “When completed this building will deliver a first-class learning resource for future generations of residents.
“Paisley is blessed with some stunning heritage buildings – but the downside is that can make them complex to revamp – which will be the case with this site.
“The building had previously been privately owned and will need a lot of work to get the interior into the right condition for this project – but we are confident we now have a solution which will do that.
“The benefit of having that on the High Street – other than bringing an empty unit back into use – is we drive footfall and new life to heart of the town centre, which will hopefully benefit traders.
“The project is just one strand of the programme of investment in our cultural facilities which is at the heart of the wider plan to transform the area’s fortunes by harnessing our unique cultural and heritage story.”