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.
Transforming the building into a modern cultural attraction to house our existing visual exhibitions, and potentially host visiting exhibitions of local significance from other galleries and museums, 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.
Some more details of the proposals can be found in the reports considered by Councillors on 22 June 2016, and further information will be found on this page as the plans are developed.
Perth City Hall Timetable
The Hall became vacant and 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 decided 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.
Frequently asked questions
Why did the Council choose a preferred bidder for the lease in 2015 rather than move to consider a new cultural attraction at that point?
At the point Perth Marketplace Ltd were chosen as the preferred bidders to lease the building this was the only option the Council was actively considering. However, at the point they had failed to provide key information to meet the pre-conditions of lease the situation had changed. Perth City Plan - Smart Growth for Perth City had been approved by both the Perth City Development Board and the Council highlighting the need for a new cultural attraction in the city. Councillors have also now backed proposals to develop a bid for UK City of Culture 2021.
These decisions have changed the playing field considerably, and mean it is right to consider Perth City Hall, as a public building in the heart of the city, as a venue for a new cultural attraction. Ultimately it will be a decision for Councillors to make on 22 June.
Why were the bidders not given the opportunity to provide the information required to meet the pre-conditions in the time between February and June?
Councillors were extremely clear about the information required and the timescales to satisfy the four pre-conditions of the lease. At no point did the bidder requested additional time to provide the information. Once negotiations were suspended it would have been inappropriate to allow the bidder to provide that information.
Will Historic Environment Scotland support plans to transform the City Hall?
Historic Environment Scotland has already confirmed that it would support a re-purposing of the building as a cultural space in line with our previously stated aspirations.
What other options for the building have been considered?
The report to Councillors detailed three options for the building, but recommended that a cultural attraction should be considered.
The options contained in the report were:
- Recommence negotiations with Perth Market Place Ltd.
- Abandon negotiations and remarket, also inviting invitations to buy.
- Identify the building as a possible location for the development of a major new cultural attraction.
- Seek consent to demolish the building and redevelop the site as a City Square.