After 103 years, landmark building to be flattened to create civic square

ONE of Scotland’s most iconic public buildings, the B-listed City Hall in Perth, is set to be demolished to pave the way for new civic square.

Members of Perth and Kinross Council yesterday approved the authority’s own plans to raze the Edwardian building to the ground to create a central plaza as part of a drive to regenerate the town centre.

The move has to be approved by Historic Scotland and Scottish ministers.

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The City Hall was built in 1908 as a concert venue but has lain derelict for the past six years.

The local authority voted in principle last June to demolish the landmark building to create a new square in Perth, which is vying to be named one of Britain’s new cities. The move would also open up views to historic St John’s Kirk, where John Knox led the Scottish Reformation by preaching against the evils of idolatry.

The demolition plan was approved yesterday by seven votes to three after five delegations – four against demolition and one in favour – addressed the development control committee.

Councillor George Hayton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group and deputy leader of the administration, said the open space created by the demolition of the City Hall would pave the way for festivals, fairs, parades and various other events to be staged in the centre of Perth.

He said: “The outside of the building is pretty solid – it’s a large concrete box. It’s the inside which is the problem.”

He went on: “We would need a use which would guarantee enough money to change it and enough money to keep it running. And, frankly, I haven’t seen a business case which convinces me of that.”

James Provan, a former MEP who formed the Perth City Centre Campaign to oppose the demolition scheme, condemned the council’s decision.

He said: “It’s a historic building and it cannot be demolished, and we don’t believe Historic Scotland will allow it to be demolished. And therefore the council could finish up with egg all over their face.”

But the local MP and MSP backed the council’s decision.

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Roseanna Cunningham, SNP MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross, said: “We all have our memories of great times at the City Hall – it was there the count was held when I was first elected to parliament, for example. So there is a great deal of sentimental attachment to the place, but it is doing no good whatsoever lying empty, with the role it served in the past being provided for by more modern, more appropriate facilities elsewhere in the city.

“This will have been a hard decision for the committee members to take, but I think that the majority of folk in Perth will agree that it is the right one and will in fact be relieved that a decision has finally been made and we can move on to making use of the space.”

Pete Wishart, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said: “It was imperative that we got this issue resolved and I am convinced that a city square is the clear way forward.”

Nick Brian, the development quality manager of Perth and Kinross Council, said an economic appraisal of the proposed demolition estimated that the creation of a civic square would lead to an additional 150,000 people each year extending their stay in the town centre, generating an additional £1.65 million for the area’s economy.

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