Fantastic news – Paisley has been voted the best town in the UK & Ireland in recognition of its ‘outstanding’ efforts to transform its fortunes.
Paisley claimed the ‘Great Town’ award at the Academy of Urbanism awards ceremony in London, beating off competition from shortlisted Barnsley in Yorkshire and Chelmsford in Essex.
Paisley is the first Scottish place to win the title since the inaugural awards in 2006.
The Great Town award recognises the best, most enduring or most improved urban environments across the UK, Ireland and Europe, and this year focused on places that have been through transformation.
The judges ruled that although Paisley, which was one of five places shortlisted for the UK City of Culture 2021, didn’t win that title, the process of developing their bid ‘won over the people of Paisley and in turn permanently changed the narrative of the place and direction of travel.’
As part of the judging process, assessors visited Paisley in August and lead assessor Michele Grant commended Paisley for using heritage and culture to change the narrative of the town.
She said: “Renfrewshire Council’s UK City of Culture bid is an outstanding example of how to shape a collective vision and build community confidence that delivers in the long term. The bid and its preparation has transformed the way local people and external organisations and individuals think and speak about the town.”
Renfrewshire Council’s investment in social housing was also praised as ‘impressive’, as was the ‘deep and meaningful working between the Council and communities’.
David Rudlin, Chair of the Academy of Urbanism, said: “Home of the Paisley pattern – a town that has recovered from industrial decline by concentrating on the basics, good housing, affordable housing and has a strong town centre.
“It may not have been successful in being nominated as UK City of Culture 2021 but the bidding process has been incredibly positive as a catalyst for change.”
Sharon McAulay from the town’s Star Project said: “One year on from our City of Culture bid, it’s a timely reminder that Paisley is a vibrant and beautiful cultural destination and is being recognised as such from far afield.
“This award belongs to the people of Paisley whose collective positivity and boundless energy have made this possible.”