Planning permission granted for £42m Paisley Museum project



Work to transform Paisley Museum into a world-class destination can start next year after planning permission was granted for the £42 million project.

View of the new Paisley Museum entrance, wing and museum garden

Designs by international architects AL_A will turn the Category A-listed Victorian building into a leading European museum telling the unique stories of a town known around the world for the Pattern which carries its name.

Members of Renfrewshire Council’s communities, housing and planning board yesterday gave the green light for an extension and external alterations plus listed building consent.

The reimagined museum is expected to draw audiences of 125,000 people a year – almost four times current numbers – from Scotland, the UK and abroad when it reopens in 2022.

The designs produced by AL_A – led by Stirling Prize winner Amanda Levete – include:

  • a fully-accessible entrance courtyard and dramatic red glazed entrance hall, creating a dynamic and inviting presence on the High Street and a contemporary face for the museum;
  • a new wing to the west of the existing building providing step-free access through the museum to the Coats Observatory (the oldest public observatory in Scotland);
  • an attractive outdoor garden, creating a new public space for the town, and opening up previously-hidden views of the observatory while reconnecting it and the museum to the town’s High Street;
  • internal renovations to improve accessibility and circulation and extend the museum into the space formerly occupied by Paisley Central Library, allowing the museum to more than double the number of objects on display to 1,200;
  • an interactive weaving studio keeping alive the town’s traditional textile skills.

In their response to the consultation, Historic Environment Scotland welcomed the proposal, which they described as “very positive, well justified”, and said the plans “sensitively respond to the building and the requirement to provide step-free access”.

The Paisley Museum Reimagined scheme is the flagship project within Renfrewshire Council’s £100 million investment in cultural venues and outdoor spaces – designed to use the town’s internationally-significant cultural and heritage story to change its future.

Cllr Marie McGurk, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s communities, housing and planning board, said: “The Paisley Museum Reimagined project is at the heart of our bold plans to transform Paisley town centre in the years ahead – we are delighted it was able to pass this important milestone today.

“The designs which have been produced blend the old and the new – they will create a 21st-century visitor experience while preserving a key part of our fantastic architectural legacy, and ensure this much-loved building can stay at the heart of life in the area for generations to come.

“Paisley’s name is already known around the world – and when the museum reopens in 2022 it will allow us to invite the world to come back to Paisley, providing new opportunities, life and footfall for the town centre and wider Renfrewshire area.”

The project is expected to create a £79m boost for the local economy over 30 years, with 138 jobs supported during construction, and 48.5 jobs per year through revenue and visitor spending.

It already includes Round One funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with funding confirmed from the Scottish Government, and their Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

Paisley Museum Reimagined Ltd has been set up as a new fundraising company to oversee the project’s fundraising strategy and capital appeal.

Paisley Museum was opened in 1871, designed by renowned Glasgow architect Sir John Honeyman. The building was gifted to the town by Sir Peter Coats of the Coats family, whose Paisley-based thread-making empire stretched around the world.

Project Team

  • Architect: AL_A
  • Conservation Architect: Giles Quarme & Associates
  • Engineering: Arup
  • Landscape Architect: GROSS.MAX
  • Exhibition Design: OPERA Amsterdam
  • Quantity Surveyors: Gardiner & Theobald


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