Paisley Community Trust Statement on Baker Street
24 June 2019
“This is a hugely disappointing time for Paisley Community Trust (PCT) as we take in the news that the exciting plans for Baker Street are unable to proceed.
“While we recognise the importance and need for social housing, we are sorry that five years of hard work by PCT and many others (including extensive engagement with Renfrewshire Council) will not now deliver the 160 new, local jobs associated with the Baker Street development.
“PCT has, as a responsible charity, shared its plans with the Council and the landowners (a joint venture between Renfrewshire Council and property developer, Park Lane Developments) throughout this period. We worked tirelessly to ensure that our business case for Baker Street was robust, a business case that would have delivered a £110 million economic boost for the town with an additional £13 million re-invested into community projects.
“We all know that the arts, culture and creative industries are key drivers in helping to regenerate communities, so it is hard to accept that PCT’s ambitions will not now be realised. However, all is not lost. We will continue to identify community led economic regeneration opportunities for the betterment of Paisley and those communities who love and care for this town. In particular, we believe we have put the need for a cinema, which is well supported, front and centre of the agenda and we are determined in finding ways to make this happen.
“While people may debate what caused this situation, at PCT we are focused on the future. We want to collaborate with people, groups and organisations who are ambitious for Paisley and we will never apologise for that. It is only by working collaboratively together that we can turn our shared vision for Paisley into reality. Thank you to all who have supported us so far.”
Gary Kerr, Chairman
Paisley Community Trust
BRIEFING NOTE ON BAKER STREET
This briefing provides detailed information on the background to the Baker Street project and its current status. It is preceded by a statement issued by Paisley Community Trust (PCT). This is being shared with supporters of PCT, Renfrewshire Council and local media.
An exciting future for Paisley
Having assessed the potential of the Baker Street site and in recognition of the evolving venue landscape in the town, PCT announced in March 19 that it had removed the construction of a Theatre from its plans, in full support of the repurposing of the Coats Memorial Church into a performing arts event space. PCT evolved its plans and proposed the route to deliver best value for the site would be a phased approach driven forward by the community. This meant initially taking ownership of the land and then moving the Baker Street development forward in two phases.
Phase 1 – Paisley Box Park
PCT worked closely with the Scottish Land Fund (SLF), which was established by the Scottish Government to empower Communities in Scotland to acquire land in their area with a view to reutilising it.
In collaboration with SLF, PCT developed a ‘Transitional Trading Phase’ (TTP). This was designed to take account of the timescales required to develop the full project and to ensure that during this period the site was enlivened and used and did not remain derelict.
The TTP Paisley Box Park included using adapted shipping containers to provide temporary social, leisure, retail and cultural facilities. There are several highly successful examples of this, including in London, Newcastle, York and Bristol. The low-cost Box Park would have enabled new entrepreneurs to shape and refine their businesses, build a customer base and create jobs.
The Box Park would have played a vital role as a regeneration engine for the town centre, attracting new retail and creative businesses and helping to support and enliven the night-time economy. It was PCT’s aim that as these businesses grew, they would relocate to other units in the town centre, breathing much needed life into the High Street area.
In addition, and following public consultation, PCT proposed to retain car parking on the site to enable Baker Street to offer an outdoor events space with a sound stage suitable for a ‘drive in / tune in’ cinema and other outdoor performances and occasions.
Phase 2 – Adding value to Paisley
The Development Phase aimed to generate additional financial contributions to support community focused economic regeneration projects and to remove any financial obligation from the Council. Any profit or surplus achieved during this phase would have been redistributed by PCT to local community projects.
PCT had started to explore the potential of attracting a 100-bed hotel with an enterprise / leisure / cinema on the ground floor. A hotel would have supported the £100m investment programme in the town on projects such as the museum extension and the Town Hall refurbishment – projects that will create undoubted demand for a town centre hotel.
Making it happen – acquiring the land
PCT appointed leading land surveyors and valuers, DM Hall, to conduct a full site appraisal. This resulted in a valuation of £400,000. PCT noted interest in the site and offered £350,000 to purchase the site directly from the JV. The PCT offer was based on the DM Hall valuation and the maximum funding percentage offered by SLF. As with offers of this kind, the PCT proposal was time bound by SLF and was set to expire on a pre-determined date 30th May 2019.
Renfrewshire Council and Park Lane Joint Venture
PCT submitted its proposals to the joint venture (JV) in May 2019 along with a request for prompt feedback due to SLF funding application timings. Despite initially agreeing to the timing, a Park Lane representative of the JV then indicated to PCT that there would be a delay in the response as the Council was carrying out due diligence on a number of other proposals for the site. Significantly, at this stage the JV representative indicated that the PCT proposal was ‘unlikely to fly.’
In recognition of the consequences of this, PCT requested a meeting with Renfrewshire Council seeking their backing, within the JV, of the plans they had previously indicated support of. During this meeting, attended by four PCT Board members, PCT noted that on several occasions the Council stated that they had no involvement, sway or influence on the JV. They stated that neither they nor their officers had anything to do with the JV and therefore had no ability to be involved. Specifically, they stated that the Council representatives on the JV Board did not act in any way for the Council and Renfrewshire Council were not carrying out due diligence on any other proposals.
Following the meeting, however, PCT was able to establish that the Council was recorded at Companies House as the single Controlling Party of the JV. PCT contacted the Council to seek clarification of these points on 5th June 2019 and is still awaiting this clarification.
Implications for Baker Street
As a consequence of the lack of a response, lack of backing and lack of clarity, PCT had no option but to indicate that its proposal and offer of £350,000 to acquire the land had expired as per its original conditions.
Despite this, PCT restated and confirmed its confidence in its proposal and offered to work with the JV in good faith if the proposal could be rescued. The JV acknowledged and noted this offer however, to date, no further conversation or exploration has taken place.
Almost immediately the Council announced plans to develop social housing on the site. Further, and without consultation with PCT, the Council announcement implied that PCT had withdrawn its offer for the site. This was incorrect as indicated earlier in this briefing the PCT offer had, in fact, expired and therefore withdrawn by default.
2014 – Feasibility Funding
In 2014, PCT joined with Renfrewshire Council in preparing the development of a key project identified in the Asset Heritage Strategy report by SLR, a consultancy firm engaged by Renfrewshire Council.
The project at that stage was for the creation of a 350+ theatre in the town. It also highlighted the need for the Council to work with community groups to deliver on the report. With the Council’s approval, PCT was formed to head up the project. PCT enhanced the original concept of a 350-seat theatre to a flexible 500 seat capacity theatre and developed the vision by adding in a small scale cinema and a performance academy for education and community groups.
PCT received an ‘Invest in Renfrewshire – Social Enterprise Small Grants Fund’ award of £32,640 from the Council to carry out a Feasibility Study which was commissioned, by PCT.
BOP Consulting was appointed to carry out the Study.
Support for Outline Business Case and associated activity for Baker Street
- Renfrewshire Council: £10,000 – Community Empowerment Fund
- Social Investment Scotland: £5,000
- Scottish Land Fund: £22,150
- Paisley First (bid): £1,000
- Merchants House of Glasgow: £5,000
- Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce: £1,250
- Big Lottery: £5,000
From the above funding, £40,410 was used to appoint Craigmount Consulting, one of the UK’s leading Cinema and Theatre Consultants to prepare the Outline Business Case for the project. All contracts were awarded following a full and rigorous procurement process.
In addition PCT benefitted from more than £350,000 of voluntary and ‘Pro Bono’ work. This has included significant work by PCT Trustees, partners and Stallan-Brand Architects.
As required, a full and set of financial accounts will be issued by PCT in due course.
About Paisley Community Trust
Paisley Community Trust (PCT) is a registered Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation founded in 2014 by Gary Kerr and Andy Campbell. PCT is focused on community driven economic regeneration of Paisley. In partnership with local communities, PCT aims to gather views, issues and ideas for the future of the town and to work in collaboration with Renfrew Council and other key stakeholders in Paisley.