City Centre Regeneration Working Group

Perth City is rich in terms of its heritage, cultural offering and long trading history. It needs to adapt to an ever-changing world in terms of what people want and need from a city to ensure it survives and thrives. Covid has accelerated the need for this to be addressed.

Priority Projects:


Our city centre buildings are in a general state of disrepair. A combination of the costs involved, absentee landlords and multi-ownership buildings create many challenges in this regard, but attractive buildings must be central to any plans for city centre regeneration. The City Heritage Fund is just a drop in the bucket in terms of the funding needed to improve our eye sore buildings and general building maintenance. Formation of a group to work with the Council and stakeholders to address this including:

  • The provision of more funding through Perth City Heritage Fund, particularly match funding of the ongoing HES funds. Long-term funding is required given the extent of the problem and both its operation and delivery is already set up and scalable through the PCHF.
  • Council match funding in cases where the building is in a prime area but the cost of carrying out the works is prohibitive for the owner/s.
  • The creation of a Perth City Building Healthcheck Scheme to enable and encourage landlords to maintain their buildings.
  • The reintroduction of the use of statutory notices in cases where there is no other way forward.
  • Lobbying for government funding for essential building repairs.

Linking of the historical and the cultural:

Perth city has a rich historical and cultural offering but it is not always linked or coordinated. There is no clear path or route to or through the city centre. There is no visual ‘map’ for how to get around it or obvious attractions that are unmissable to someone visiting Perth. To remedy this:

  • The creation of walking paths into and through the city centre touching on all the central attractions: City Hall, St John’s Kirk, Horsecross/Perth Theatre, Perth Museum & Art Gallery, Lower City Mills, St Paul’s, the Tay and the two Inches. Incorporated into this should be the plans instigated by Wayne Hemingway to beautify the vennels that connect the city by the use of lighting and artwork. Where additional funding is needed to achieve this, local businesses should be offered the opportunity to sponsor an artist to create street art in a vennel or other location. Artwork can also be applied to pavements to create a visual route. The Council should work with businesses and investors to create and ambitious plan of works connecting all these routes with a series of artistic installations and a project should be undertaken to gain support and further funding from the private sector to develop current plans further.
  • Clear sign posts should be created from the train station, bus station, and car parks for routes into the city centre on foot, taking them on these routes.
  • Historical interactive signs have been reintroduced to the city centre in the past few weeks. This should be built on an expanded where possible and as new developments occur across the city.
  • Further links should be explored and encouraged between the city centre and the Tay.

City Centre Housing Provision:

For a modern city to flourish and be vibrant, people need to live in it. At present Perth has a high level of development on the outskirts of the city rather than within it. As buildings in the city centre become redundant as large retailers move out, these buildings become ripe for redevelopment.

As retrofitting is the most sustainable option, this should always be explored in the first instance before replacement. Homes for the young, first time buyers, affordable housing and retirees should be prioritised. Plans should be drawn up for the creation of hundreds of new flats in the city centre with a view to attracting developers and investors to buildings and sites that may be suitable. This should be prioritised over further development outwith the city centre.

Re-thinking of Parking Provision:

As Perth attempts to meet its responsibilities to address emissions in the City Centre and the climate crisis, in some areas cars will be removed from or there will be reduced car access to the City Centre. As we still have a population greatly reliant on car use, particularly from the outskirts and hinterland, there should be well thought out parking around the outside of the city centre with ways to make access to the city centre easy and attractive.

Car parking options should be well sign posted on the way into Perth and available within 200-300m of the city centre and its attractions. It should be affordable and with a clear route and easy access into the city centre. There should be the creation of a free hop on, hop off bus to ferry visitors from the main car parks into the main points in the centre of Perth and back again.

Loading bays and access will need to be maintained and created as many city centre businesses sell large and heavy objects that cannot be carried, and provision for the disabled will need to continue.

Repurposing Empty Shops:

In addition to the creation of new places for people to live in the city centre, there should be the creation of a team to work between the Council and landlords/commercial property managers to identify empty properties for redevelopment or temporary use as pop up shops or other ‘meanwhile use’.

Businesses could find possible locations by accessing this team and their portfolio of possibilities. Landlords should be incentivised to ‘white box’ or otherwise prepare their premises for a new tenant to make it easier for new businesses to set up. Businesses that leave premises empty for years should be penalised or disincentivised so that we do not have long term empty properties.

City Centre Promotion:

The dissemination of information to the public about what is on in Perth and our vision for redevelopment should become a regular and ongoing process so that people in Perth are never in any doubt as to what is happening in terms of our shared vision and all redevelopment works. Window vinyls already being employed can be used for this purpose as well as for hiding empty shops. In addition information should be imparted via social media long before plans become a fait accompli so that Perth residents and businesses are brought along on the journey and their views sought.

Education in the City Centre:

The location of Perth College on the outskirts of Perth and the lack of a University in the City have been identified as a stumbling block in attracting and retaining young people in Perth. There should be an exploration of further training and educational opportunities for young people in Perth. There is a lack of traditional building skills in the country and there is the potential to create a centre for teaching traditional building skills in Perth which ties in well with our industrial and craft heritage. This, along with other educational opportunities should be explored and the creation of such educational institutions within Perth should be an aspiration.

Replacements for Department Stores:

Many cities up and down the country faced with these closures are finding new ways to use the spaces and attract visitors including the creation of indoor food markets and innovation hubs. Perthshire excels in food & drink and we would like to see the creation of a Food & Drink hub in the city centre to attract micro and small businesses from Perthshire who might not want to have entire premises or would like a small retail outlet within a bigger one in the city. Our ambition on relation to promoting our excellence in food and drink should go far beyond the once monthly Farmer’s Market. There should be a feasibility study for such development within Perth with premises identified.

City Centre Events:

Events held in the city centre should match our goals, including:

  • Always supporting and never negating our ambition to be the most sustainable small city in Europe. We look forward to hosting a Sustainability Festival in the city centre and getting local businesses involved.
  • Enhancing our cultural offering: tying cultural events in with Horsecross/Perth Theatre and museums.
  • Promoting our regional strengths (e.g. food & drink) and promote our home grown business talent.
  • Markets should not be brought in to the city centre unless they fit in with these ambitions.

The working group team includes:

  • Dawn Cotton Fuge (Lead), Precious Sparkle & Perth Traders Association
  • Alan Harris, Montagu Evans
  • Lu Kemp, Perth Theatre
  • David Strachan, Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust
  • Stephen Hay, Gannochy Trust
  • John McCrone is our Perth & Kinross Council Liaison

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