In depth: major milestone reached for planned Perth West economic powerhouse development
Perth & Kinross Council has given the thumbs-up to the Perth West site, earmarked for 240 hectares of land on the western edge of the “Fair City”, progressing the proposals to create more than 1,000 permanent jobs and help Scotland reach its net zero targets.
The green light marks the latest chapter in the project, after the full planning application was submitted in 2020, while in 2018 it was stated that the planned development had been calculated as set to boost the local economy by nearly £500 million over the next 25 years.
It aims to bring about clean inclusive growth of Perth through investment in infrastructure and land that enables climate change adaptation, skilled employment opportunities, and public amenities to come forward at speed – and position Perth as “one of the smartest, greenest cities in Europe” through collaboration between the local authority, UK and Scottish Governments, local businesses and academic institutions.
The site, next to the Broxden Roundabout, includes 25 hectares of land for commercial development where direct access to the A9 and core electricity infrastructure are expected to create highly skilled job opportunities for, stimulating economic recovery and investment in, Perth
Planned facilities include office, industrial, retail, hotel, and leisure space, with a Perth Eco Innovation Park looking to leverage the research, skills development and technological applications of the proposed Perth Innovation Highway (a Tay Cities Deal project, comprising a corridor that connects existing and planned city mobility and full fibre strategies with renewable energy source), and predicted to deliver 1,080 net new jobs and gross value added of £65m a year for the city.
There are also plans for 1,500 energy-efficient homes set out in a 15-minute neighbourhood design, with electric car and bike charging infrastructure, car sharing options, public transport and cycle paths.
The John Dewar Lamberkin Trust, which is the developer of the project, said building the development will create 1,285 temporary jobs, generating a one-off boost of just under £120m to the local economy. Longer term, Perth West is expected to bring about 1,100 permanent, skilled jobs to Perth & Kinross – with city credited with having an above-average proportion of people educated to graduate level or above, but ranking below average nationally for highly-skilled jobs.
Alexander Dewar of the John Dewar Lamberkin Trust, which since 2015 has been working with Perth & Kinross Council on the development, said: “Perth West offers huge benefits for the city of Perth, the wider region, and for Scotland. It is a blueprint for moving ahead with decarbonised transport systems and logistics, 15-minute cities, and innovation in low-carbon technologies and businesses.
"We must reduce our carbon emissions and we can create skilled jobs and high-quality housing at the same time, ensuring a brighter future for the region and the country. I look forward to positive engagement with the Scottish Government to ensure the core infrastructure is delivered to realise the aspirations of this development, which is both good for Perth and vital for Scotland.”
He has previously said: “As a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis we must urgently rebuild our economy and create jobs, but in a manner that addresses the graver challenge of climate change.”
The location of Perth West has been described by Professor Sean Smith, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Future Infrastructure, as a “strategic site for Scotland and the UK” benefiting from the proximity of the trunk road network and the high-voltage transmission network. These factors are seen as offering the potential to make Perth West a “truly transformative” development for the local city, and help achieve Scotland’s 2045 net zero targets.
Those behind the development add that transport is responsible for 24 per cent of all Scotland’s carbon emissions at present, while Perth is considered to be a critical hub in transport infrastructure to ensure continuity of supply with emerging energy-efficient trucks and vans coming to the market.
Improvements to the road network set to be delivered as part of Perth West include a new grade-separated junction that will open up 25 hectares of land planned for advanced logistics and low-carbon innovation, and the site will host electric charging and hydrogen refuelling facilities to support the transition of heavy and light goods vehicles to low-carbon technologies.
Professor Smith said: “No other city or site location currently in Scotland has the potential to positively impact across so many of Scotland’s cities, local authorities, businesses and trade to interlink and contribute on a national scale to reduce future transport emissions and support net zero.”
The planned 1,500 new homes (including 375 affordable homes and with capacity for many more) are expected to meet the principles of the 15-minute neighbourhood, and “high quality, environmentally sustainable and people-friendly housing combined with innovative business facilities will be promoted to attract private investment to the region,” say those behind the development. They add that Perth & Kinross Council has outlined its commitment to creating a world-class destination for companies and investors committed to inclusive, equitable growth at Perth West, which also forms part of a number of UK and Scottish government investment plans including Invest in Great Britain and Scotland is Now.
Other eco-friendly developments in Scotland include a 20-acre solar park that has just opened in the north-east following a multi-million-pound investment,
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