Businessman hopes to get the green light for new cinema plans

George with Gary Kerr, Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP and Cllr Brian Lawson

Jun 13 2013 by Chris Taylor, Paisley Daily Express

A businessman who is a film buff in his spare time is hoping to get the green light for ambitious plans to breathe new life into Paisley town centre by opening a cinema at the former Arnotts site.

Proud Buddie Gary Kerr hopes to convert part of the abandoned department store, in Gauze Street, into a multi-screen theatre.

Mr Kerr, who runs the EPM Solutions engineering firm, has drawn up blueprints for the cinema, which would sit alongside new homes and shops at the sprawling site.

He said: “I have been working with others on a number of ideas to help revitalise the centre of Paisley for well over a year now.

 

“We should be encouraging people to come into the town and spend money on leisure activities, making it a place that families want to visit.

“It’d be great to have somewhere they can have something to eat, do a bit of shopping and see a film.

“That is how we encourage more people into the town.”

Renfrewshire Council have already unveiled plans for new flats and shops at the old Arnotts site.

However, Mr Kerr hopes a new cinema can also be included – and has received the backing of Paisley MSP George Adam.

Mr Adam said: “Gary is right that there needs to be a reason for people in Renfrewshire to come to Paisley, spend cash and help the economic development of the town.

“We need to make sure that all investment is looked at carefully and it should be spent in ways that will give the most benefit to the people of the town.”

Well-known pub boss Piero Pieraccini, who is chairman of the Paisley Development Trust, is also backing Mr Kerr’s cinema plans.

He said: “As I am also in the leisure and entertainment sector, I am acutely aware of how many students and local folk feel they are starved of entertainment venues in Paisley.

“Opening a cinema is definitely the way forward as, with more and more students living in the town centre, we must provide an incentive for them to spend cash here, rather than take the train to Glasgow.”

Paisley has strong historic connections with the cinema industry and, back in the 1950s and 60s, there were at least eight picture houses across the town.

However, by the 1970s, only three remained – the Astoria, in Lawn Street; the ABC, in High Street; and the Kelburne, in Glasgow Road.

The ABC closed its doors in 1981, while the Kelburne screened its last film in 1997.