AMBITIOUS plans for a new community theatre space in Renfrewshire have taken a huge step forward after an £800,000 grant was confirmed.

PACE Theatre Company is transforming the old Mannequins nightclub in Paisley into a hub, to be known as Exchange, where creativity can flourish.

Now the project has banked a windfall from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund after a successful bid by Renfrewshire Council on PACE’s behalf.

The £2.6million project, which will include a 300-seat theatre, as well as other community and creative spaces, was granted planning permission in February 2020 and work has been underway for more than a year.

Once the hub opens in March 2023, it will host nearly 200 PACE performances each year, along with professional touring shows, and offer a space for Renfrewshire’s cultural community.

Grant Mason, PACE chief executive, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Scottish Government for their investment in this project, which we believe will be transformative for young people, the local community and the regeneration of Paisley.”

PACE had already received £420,000 from Renfrewshire’s share of the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund to support initial work at the building and produce designs to allow an application to the RCGF to be made.

As well as the main theatre, Exchange will include a flexible studio theatre and creative learning space.

There will also be a family-friendly café/bar with informal performance area, reading snug and exhibition space.