Perth City Square / City Hall
Perth & Kinross Council aims to find an appropriate and financially viable solution in relation to City Hall, which will bring vibrancy to the city centre, either in the re-use of the Hall or an alternative use of the site.
This process has been protracted, which reflects the challenges inherent in finding an alternative use for the building.
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 the 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 from Perth City Market Trust and 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", raising: "significant concerns regarding the ability of PCMT to deliver the project."
In these circumstances, it would have been highly irresponsible for the Council to accept this bid.
In due course the Council's Development Management Committee will be asked to vote on making an application to the Scottish Government to demolish a listed building. If an application is made, the outcome is unlikely to be known until later in 2014.
Frequently asked questions
- Q: How can I object to the demolition of Perth City Hall?
- Q: Why was the Perth City Market Trust proposal rejected?
- Q: If demolishing the Hall and creating a square would cost £3.3 million, why not give this money to support an organisation that would reuse the building?
- Q: Why does the Council think an open square will attract people in this climate?
- Q: City Hall is in good condition, why can't it be used for suitable community activities instead of standing unused?
- Q: Why not wait until economic conditions improve and an alternative use is more likely to be found?
- Q: What if the costs of demolition and creating a square end up being more than expected, for example if there is an archaeological find?
- Q: How long will local businesses suffer disruption during demolition of the Hall and building The Square?
- Q: What is that economic case for the new square?
- Q: Have the public been properly consulted?
- Q: Will the Council consider new planning applications for the City Hall?
Perth & Kinross Council will advertise that they are making an application to demolish the building in the local press. Details are available on the Council website. Representations on planning applications can be submitted online (Opens in a new window); by email: DevelopmentManagement@pkc.gov.uk ; or by post: Pullar House, 35 Kinnoull Street, Perth, PH1 5GD. When corresponding with us by email please ensure that you add our generic email address DevelopmentManagement@pkc.gov.uk to your email contacts to avoid our subsequent messages being directed to your spam box.
Any objections and letters of support received in response to this advertisement will be taken into account when the application is made to Scottish Ministers and will be included in the application documents.
There are also currently two active planning applications for the Hall, which can be accessed online.
The Council has to consider not only price but also social, economic and environmental costs and benefits of all proposals. Following Scottish Ministers' rejection of the application for demolition the Council agreed to remarket the building in 2012. The Council was aware, from previous experience, of the need to ensure the economic viability of any alternative use, whether it was a commercial or social enterprise proposal. For this reason, it was made very clear to all potential bidders that their bids would be judged to a great extent on their economic viability and their ability to demonstrate funding and a long-term commercial plan which would not fail or require public subsidy in excess of the economic impact generated.
After a 15 month period, only one bid was received. This was from Perth City Market Trust and 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", raising: "significant concerns regarding the ability of PCMT to deliver the project."
In these circumstances, it would have been highly irresponsible for the Council to accept this bid.
Q: If demolishing the Hall and creating a square would cost £3.3 million, why not give this money to support an organisation that would reuse the building?
Throughout the process, we have been open to ideas that can deliver long-term economic benefits to the city but to date, despite considerable efforts, the Council has been unable to identify a re-use solution that delivers this.
The proposal for a city square has a very compelling economic impact and cultural case in its favour. It represents the lowest capital investment but will deliver long-term social and economic benefits and provide a vibrant heart at the centre of the city.
The cost of demolition and building a square is a one-off capital cost. Any costs thereafter, for example for maintenance, would be less than the economic impact generated.
There are numerous examples of squares elsewhere in the UK and Northern European cities with similar or colder climates which provide thriving social and economic hubs. The Council used evidence from these to inform its assessment of the benefits of a square. Examples include Copenhagen and Amsterdam. The space created would be used by pavement cafes , events and markets. The Council also consulted businesses, market and event organisers to gather information on how the square could be used.
Q: City Hall is in good condition, why can't it be used for suitable community activities instead of standing unused?
The Hall needs at least £1 million spent on internal services it to make it safe and suitable for public use. It would then have to be fully subsidised by the public which is not a sustainable option when it cannot generate the economic benefits to offset this. Consultation with the public indicated they did not want more money spent on the building.
The Council's cannot justify additional public monies on subsidy for temporary use of the Hall or ongoing maintenance while it remains unused.
Q: Why not wait until economic conditions improve and an alternative use is more likely to be found?
Limited resources means that it is the Council's duty to take responsible decisions about the use of tax-payers' money and cannot justify additional public monies spent on ongoing maintenance while it remains unused. Meanwhile the City Square option offers viable economic benefits now and in the future.
Q: What if the costs of demolition and creating a square end up being more than expected, for example if there is an archaeological find?
The estimate of £3.3 million includes consideration of the likely survey costs. We know that significant archaeological finds are unlikely, as the site was previously disturbed when the building was built.
Q: How long will local businesses suffer disruption during demolition of the Hall and building The Square?
The demolition and build would be between 18 and 24 months and we will make every effort to keep disruption to a minimum, particularly during the tourism season. The site would be protected and hidden by hoardings during demolition and work phased to maintain access to surrounding property. Archaeological surveys would be carried out during the demolition process.
The Council commissioned an appraisal of all potential development options in 2010 and again in 2011. This looked at the potential of both re-use and alternative solutions, including partial demolition full demolition and demolition and redevelopment. The evaluation criteria were set out to establish the costs and benefits of each proposal in financial, socio-economic and environmental, time, risk and quality terms.
Property experts using government approved methods found that, of the re-use options, a cultural led development does have the potential to deliver long-term, net economic and social benefits, albeit with public investment, but that the demolition of the Hall and the creation of a new civic space was the solution which would deliver the best value in economic and social terms.
Details of these previous appraisals and other supporting evidence can be found on the 'additional information' page, along with reports and decision notices.
The Council will submit the evidence obtained from re-marketing the building and current economic, social and environmental impacts in support of a new application for demolition.
The public have been consulted on the future of the City Hall as part of the planning of the city centre since the 1990s and their views were sought on development proposals in 2005. More recently, in 2011, a comprehensive survey of public opinion was conducted which attracted 2502 responses, one of the highest response rates to any public consultation by the Council. 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 as Planning Authority has a duty to consider planning or listed building applications. A body or individual can make a planning application regardless of whether or not they own or control the land or building to which it relates. If a planning or listed building application for the City Hall were received, then it would be dealt with in the same manner as any other such application, concurrently with the process of applying for consent to demolish the City Hall. Securing planning and listed building consent is however only part of the process. Ultimately development can only proceed if the site or building is acquired and there is a compelling business case and funding to deliver what is proposed.
There are currently two active planning applications for the City Hall, which can be viewed online.