Various schemes for the resurrection of Perth’s Edwardian City Hall, including its conversion into a nightclub, will be placed before Perth and Kinross Council in the next fortnight.
The hall, where Margaret Thatcher gave her first public speech as prime minister, has been under threat of demolition since 2005 when it was made redundant by the opening of an modern concert venue nearby.
Planners at Perth and Kinross Council voted to bulldoze the hall in December 2013 to give the “Fair City” a European-style central square.
Their plans, which would come at a cost of £4 million, met fierce opposition and Prince Charles lent his support towards saving the building.
As Historic Scotland becomes increasingly entrenched in its opposition to the hall’s destruction, a senior councillor believes his colleagues must plan for a future with a reborn city hall.
Labour group leader Archie MacLellan said the council must be ready to step in with its own plans for its reuse, should none of the new schemes turn out to be suitable.
Interested parties have until 16 January to present their plans to the council for scrutiny by independent advisers.
They will include Perth Market Place Ltd’s scheme for an upmarket food hall and Seventy Group’s plan to convert the hall into a boutique five-star hotel, which gained planning permission in May last year.
Seventy Group spokesman Simon Wilson yesterday confirmed the hotel plan is ready to go ahead as previously outlined, complete with 32 bedrooms, a restaurant, bar and banqueting facilities.
A number of other developments may also come forward for scrutiny, including a nightclub – a plan which is believed to have been floated with senior figures within the city.
The local authority has twice sought and been denied permission from Historic Scotland to demolish the hall to create a civic square in its place.
Mr MacLellan said: “In my view, if we do not get sustainable options coming forward through this marketing process, then we as a council must have a long, hard look at what we can do with the building.
“It looks increasingly unlikely that Historic Scotland is going to be willing to let the building be demolished. We cannot simply let the city hall sit empty.”
Perth City South councillor Alexander Stewart said he remained open to any viable scheme.
He said: “Nine years ago I said that demolishing the hall would be architectural vandalism and I stand by that opinion. We will know who the various bidders are on 16 January and let’s hope that there is a worthwhile plan.”
Independent property experts Jones Lang LaSalle is expected to have submitted its assessment and evaluation of bids to the council by mid February.
The proposals could then come before a meeting of the full council in late April, when elected members would be expected to take a decision once again.
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