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Council votes to demolish Perth City Hall

Perth City Hall is set to be demolished

Perth City Hall is set to be demolished

  • by ALISTAIR MUNRO
 

Perth City Hall, one of Scotland most iconic concert venues, is set to be demolished after councillors threw out a rescue plan backed by Prince Charles.

A £6 million proposal to convert the building, which has lain empty for eight years, into a food market hall was deemed “not financially viable” by Perth and Kinross Council.

Councillors also agreed the local authority should resubmit an application to Scottish Ministers for listed building consent to demolish the hall.

If granted it would pave the way for a resurrection of the council’s preferred option for the site - a new civic square in the heart of Perth.

The long running saga surrounding the city hall, which celebrates its centenary next year, has divided opinion.

Perth City Market Trust had submitted a proposal to transform the Edwardian B-listed Perth City Hall into a destination shopping centre - an indoor market and food hall.

The venture had the support of the Prince’s Regeneration Trust and the Prince’s Foundation.

But councillors at the packed meeting this afternoon accepted officials’ advice that the project would not be commercially viable and would rely on ongoing and unsecured public subsidies.

An assessment of the trust’s bid was undertaken by independent commercial property experts Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL).

Those behind the proposal were left dejected after the decision.

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, said: “Our aim was not purely commercial, it is to use this important building in a way that will create the maximum benefit for the community.”

Business backing

However some business leaders believe bringing in the bulldozers is the correct decision.

John Bullough, recently named as chair of the new Perth City Development Trust (PCMT), said it was time to move on after 15 months of delay that he believes has halted the city’s growth.

Mr Bullough, managing director of McEwens of Perth which is the city centre’s largest employer, has long been an advocate of demolition.

He said: “I am pleased this has finally come to a conclusion, as a decade of having a derelict void at Perth’s heart has significantly damaged our Fair City.

“I recognise this has been an emotive issue, but the thing to focus on now is the future and how to make this space add to the prosperity of Perth. Whatever the councillors decide, we must all agree that speed is of the essence.”

Perth MP Pete Wishart described the proposal for a indoor market and food hall as ‘pie in the sky’, adding: “Let’s get this finally dealt with now.”

Last year the Prince’s Regeneration Trust joined the Scottish Civic Trust and Save Britain’s Heritage to help save the 102-year-old city landmark from the threat of demolition.

The council’s plan to raze the building to the ground was put on hold while alternative proposals were submitted to the council.

The council announced last month that the authority had received only one bid - from the trust - in relation to the marketing for sale of Perth City Hall.

But the assessment of the trust’s submission document by JLL was damning.

Their report to the council stated: “The submission confirms that the PCMT proposal is dependent upon substantial funding. However there is no evidence to confirm that funding is in place.

“PCMT have not raised any capital for this venture and the success of the project isdependent on a mix of funding sources including Lottery grant funds, European Structural Funds, bank finance, public funds, trust funds and an element which is unspecified.

“Whilst a list of funding sources has been named, PCMT have not included any evidence or letters of support from these parties to say that this money would be available for this type of project.

“Furthermore, given the noted support from the Princes Regeneration Trust and the Princes Foundation, there is no evidence of any committed funding guarantees within the documentation.”

The JLL report continued: “Given our experience of working with clients who are trying to secure bank funding for commercial and residential led developments we do not believe, that as it is currently presented, a project of this nature would be commercially fundable.

The to turn the land into a civic square scheme has been costed at £3.28 million by the council.

That figure included demolition and the creation of a multi-levelled square to match the upgrades of other parts of the city centre, creating a potential venue for events.

 

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