Perth City Hall
Perth & Kinross Council has approved plans to develop the former Perth City Hall as a new visual arts attraction for the city and recommended Mecanoo as the architectural firm to take designs forward.
The selection panel to assess the architect's submissions included senior officers from the Council who are responsible for delivering the project, an independent advisor from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), and construction/civil engineering experts working on the project. Culture Perth & Kinross which operates museums and galleries on behalf of the Council was also represented.
Transforming the building into a modern cultural attraction will allow the Council to deliver on one of the themes of the Perth City Plan: Smart Growth for Perth City to grow the visitor economy of Perth. City Hall will be a major new venue, displaying our own museum and art collections alongside iconic loans from elsewhere and touring exhibitions from the UK and abroad. It will also provide community and learning spaces and create a fantastic meeting point at the very heart of Perth.
Five architectural firms were shortlisted to work on the transformation. Shortlisted initial design concepts were on display for public comments from 12 June to 24 June 2017 in the Civic Hall at 2 High Street. We have published a summary of public comments received during this process.
The architects' entries were assessed for:
- How well they met the needs of the brief to create a leading cultural attraction showcasing our Ancient Roots, Modern Scots story
- How visitor requirements had been considered
- How the requirements of important museum and art collections had been considered
- Affordability and making best use of public funds
- How the final design will relate to the wider public realm around City Hall
The initial design concepts from the other four short-listed architects were:
Frequently asked questions
How have the public comments influenced the recommendation?
Public comments may influence the final design. We have published a summary of public comments received during this process. Those businesses and residents who are directly affected by the development will continue to be engaged as part of the development of a detailed design. There will also be a formal consultation when planning permission is sought and on any changes to traffic management arrangements.
How did the Council encourage public input?
We widely publicised the exhibition of initial design concepts through local media, the Council's e-newsletters, social media and signage. We also wrote to people and organisations with a direct interest in the development, such as local traders and residents and arts and heritage organisations. Printed copies of the concepts and an electronic presentation were sent to all secondary schools in Perth and Kinross. An electronic presentation was shown on public screens at Council buildings across Perth and Kinross and flyers were available at Council buildings, including community campuses.
Where will the funding come from?
Perth & Kinross Council has committed £20 million to the combined transformation of City Hall, Perth Museum & Art Gallery and the new collections store. A further £10 million is being sought from the Tay Cities Deal and other sources. The Council has committed further funding of £2.8 million towards improvements in the area surrounding the building and routes to and from it. This is part of an additional £14 million to improve public spaces and lighting.
When will work start and how long will it take?
Work is expected to start on the site in 2019 and take two years. We will do all we can to minimise disruption during that time and work with local residents and traders to keep things running smoothly.
Does the project have planning and listed building consent?
Planning and listed building consent will be sought once the detailed design has been developed. This is expected to be in 2018. Formal public consultation is required as part of these submissions and both immediate neighbours and the wider public will have the opportunity to formally comment on both design proposals and proposed use of the building and surrounding space.
Historic Environment Scotland has been involved throughout this process. They have had sight of the shortlisted design concepts and their recommendations on the process are being followed.
What will happen to the area around the building?
The chosen design will also improve the public realm around City Hall. Improvements to public space will provide for markets and events in the area and occupation of space for alfresco use. Feature and decorative lighting will also be provided to animate the space and buildings at night to encourage people to stay longer and link with lighting initiatives throughout the city.
Will the new attraction be free to enter?
The permanent exhibitions will be free. There may be a charge for some temporary or touring exhibits.
What happens now that Perth has not won UK City of Culture 2021?
The Council is committed to the transformation of City Hall as part of its vision for cultural regeneration of the city centre. The project will have significant positive economic impact on the area regardless of the outcome of the bid.
Perth City Hall timeline
The Hall became vacant as it lacked the layout and facilities needed for modern use, including disabled access, media facilities, green room space for artists and sufficient breakout space that is now required for modern cultural and conference venues. A consultation and tender process took place.
A plan for a mixed use retail development was given the go-ahead by the Council.
The development failed due to the inability of the developer to secure funding, as the property market had changed and there was no longer a market for such a facility.
An independent economic assessment by Locum and Colliers of the current and foreseeable economic climate confirmed the demolition of City Hall and the creation of a civic square as the most beneficial option for the local economy.
A survey of public opinion attracted 2,502 responses. The results showed that 57% of the public, 69% of businesses and 58% of market and event organisers support the creation of a public space following full or partial demolition of City Hall.
The Council gave planning consent for a Civic Square.
Due to its listed building status, a consent to demolish the City Hall was required by Historic Scotland, which was turned down.
The Council had to remarket the building, following Historic Scotland's decision that more evidence was required to demonstrate that there was no viable use for it.
After a 15 month period, only one bid was received. This was independently assessed by Commercial Property experts, Jones Laing Lasalle, and found to be "lacking in detail in relation to proposed commercial terms, business case and funding arrangements". In these circumstances, it would have been highly irresponsible for the Council to accept this bid.
Planning and listed building applications were received relating to proposals for a hotel on the site of Perth City Hall. The Council's Development Management Committee approved these in May. Subsequently in June 2014 a meeting of full Council agreed to re-market Perth City Hall for long term lease for a further six month period.
As a result of the re-marketing five proposals were received for the redevelopment of Perth City Hall. These proposals were evaluated by independent commercial property expert, Jones Lang Lasalle, who concluded that three of the bids were non-compliant with the specific guidelines outlined as part of the marketing process.
The remaining two bids were brought forward for consideration and at a meeting in October 2015 Councillors agreed to select Perth Market Place Ltd (PMP) as the preferred bidder, and set 4 pre-conditions which must be met before the lease terms could be brought back to Council for agreement.
On 24 February 2016 Councillors were informed that the bidder had not fully met the pre-conditions and were asked to make a decision on the next steps. Following discussion Councillors agreed to suspend negotiations with PMP and instructed the Depute Chief Executive (Sustainability, Strategic & Entrepreneurial Development) to explore all options available to Council.
In early 2016 Councillors unanimously agreed to support the new Perth City Plan: Smart Growth for Perth City , including proposals to growth the city's visitor economy through a new cultural attraction. Officers were asked to investigate potential sites for this new attraction.
A report on the options available was brought back to Council on 22 June 2016 alongside a report on the developing Perth's cultural offering. After considering both of these reports Councillors agreed that to to formally end lease negotiations.
On 13 April 2017, Perth & Kinross Council announced the five shortlisted architectural firms in the competition to redesign the City Hall.
Between 12-24 June 2017, the shortlisted architects' initial design concepts went on public display, and comments were invited. You can read the public feedback here.
On 16 August the Council approved Mecanoo as the recommended architect.