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The next 5 years - themes and big moves

Delivering infrastructure for smart growth is a long-term project, which will be implemented over the next 15-20 years, but the change starts now with a programme of practical action for the short-to-medium term.

The Perth City Development Board has agreed a 5-year delivery plan, which will drive change in four key areas:

  • economic prosperity and enterprise
  • knowledge and learning
  • the Perth experience
  • the visitor economy

Economic prosperity and enterprise

Big Move 1: Invest in Perth

This will focus on strengthening the commitment of our blue-chip companies to Perth; encouraging and supporting plans for expansion and reinvestment and a targeted business-winning effort to attract inward investment.

Complemented by customer relationship management this will help to ensure that Perth's major employers play a pivotal role and maintain their commitment to the city in the years ahead, and that Perth will be a preferred location for head offices and Scottish headquarters. Invest in Perth will provide a high-calibre business-winning service to work alongside Scottish Development International to maintain and grow the key companies, secure reinvestment and attract investment from Europe and overseas.


  • Investment inquiries and bespoke support packages are serviced and developed through Invest in Perth
  • A targeted programme of direct marketing activities (exhibitions, online and media campaigns), is undertaken via Invest in Perth focusing on key sectors and strategic sites and development opportunities
  • Scottish Enterprise provide a strategic account management service for key companies, including SMEs with growth potential

Big Move 2: High-productivity economy

In Perth employment in professional, scientific and technical services is only about half the Scottish average. To be a successful small city we need a high-productivity, knowledge-based economy, capitalising on the research strengths of local universities. A knowledge-based economy cannot be switch on overnight, but it is central to our aspirations for Perth.


  • An intensive business development effort is established, working in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, to support the development of a cohort of high-growth companies and key sectors; the Tay Eco-Valley initiative will be an important test-bed for this approach
  • Dialogue is undertaken with Scotland's leading universities to promote Perth as an ideal location for the commercialisation of research and Perth College UHI builds on developing research strengths
  • The business birth-rate is accelerated in key sectors, exploring the feasibility of incubators for hi-tech/creative start-ups

City of knowledge and learning

Big Move 3: University City

The creation of the University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI) means that Perth is now a university city. UHI is a unique institution which offers integrated further and higher education provision on multiple sites including Perth College, the largest of the institution's academic partners. This is an important step: by 2017 there will be 3,000 undergraduates studying in Perth. In partnership with Perth College UHI we will accelerate growth an development in Perth to enhance its economic, social and cultural impact, making Perth a more exciting and cosmopolitan city.

Proposals have been developed to transform the redundant St John School building into a hub of creativity and productivity - a place that connects creative practitioners and entrepreneurs, and inspires new ideas and lets creative thinking emerge. The Business Innovation and Creative Industries Hub will be home to workshops, studios and flexible business spaces and will provide a supporting environment to allow ideas to be nurtured, particularly in creative industries, technology and digital media.


  • Perth College UHI seeks to extend its education offer in areas including sustainable resource management, advanced engineering, applied health and the creative industries  
  • Perth College UHI becomes a more visible and influential presence in the city centre, and consider locating business incubators production space and student housing there
  • Other universities and research centres establish a presence in Perth through satellite learning centres, commercialisation units and other facilities

Big Move 4: Skilled workforce

Perth College UHI's Strategic Plan highlights meeting the needs of the local economy as a key aim, based on "planned and meaningful engagement with employers including the development of apprenticeships, the exchange of knowledge and opportunities for growth". This is an ideal time to review the present and future skills requirements of Perth's key companies of all sizes so that they can reflected in future training, further and higher education and research provision.


  • Other universities and research centres establish a presence in Perth through satellite learning centres, commercialisation units and other facilities
  • A joint initiative is undertaken between Perth College UHI, Invest in Perth and Skills Development Scotland to commission a workforce skills study, based on original research; and the study findings will inform a review of training services and the development of proposals for new products, learning networks and other measures
  • A refresh and re-launch of training, recruitment and productivity services should be accompanied by a major communications exercise to tell students, parents and employers about the quality and flexibility of local provision and the opportunities for progression

The Perth experience

Big Move 5: City Centre public realm

The quality of the public realm in Perth is variable, and it falls away outside the "inner grid" of the principal shopping streets. The disconnection between the city centre and the River Tay is a long-standing concern, and the debate about the future of the City Hall has been difficult and divisive. In the medium-term the Board will focus its efforts on five key priorities:

  • establishing a hierarchy of attractive public spaces for a range of uses from informal/recreational through to markets, performance and events of different scales;
  • extending the streetscape initiative in Mill Street between Methven Street and the Concert Hall, to create shared space and, where possible, open up the Town Lade;
  • improving pedestrian links beside and across the river to improve connectivity with the city centre, Scone Palace and attractions on the riverside;
  • creating a high quality pedestrian Gold Route from the station to the City Centre;
  • the City of Light initiative: strategy, design, and installation of creative lighting and art installations across the city centre.


  • The Council review traffic and access in the city centre, develop designs and promote investment in a hierarchy of attractive public spaces and development sites on the basis of revised city development and placemaking guidance.*
    * This action is discussed in more detail in the icon City Development and Placemaking [5Mb] section of the City Plan.

Big Move 6: Animating the city

Perth has an attractive and popular city centre, with a good artisan and independent shopping and food offer, and a range of cultural attractions. It comes to life on special occasions, such as market days or the switching-on of the Christmas lights. Outside business hours, and especially in the evenings, it lacks a sense of vitality and excitement.

The basic conditions for success are in place with city centre management promoting more effective use of existing assets and resources. However, we need a plan to continue to animate the city centre to encourage more people to live in the centre, visit Perth (locals and visitors), stay longer and spend more.


  • Private sector partners through the City Development Board consider supporting the development of a BID (Business Improvement Districts) for Perth city centre or other funding to support city centre management, events and markets.

Visitor economy

Big Move 7: Cultural attractions

Increasingly the 21st century visitor tourism market is predicated on the idea that the city itself is the attraction, within which cultural attractions (with ease of navigation between them), public programmes and consistent, high-quality branding of the cultural offer work in tandem to create a strong cultural city destination which is cohesive and compelling for UK and international visitors.

Independent feasibility work to support this revised City Plan identified that Perth's current cultural attractions are underperforming in comparison to those elsewhere, but that there is very significant visitor market potential to attract 4.7M visitors annually. The proposed response to this market opportunity is to showcase the complementary aspects of Perth's culture:

  • 'Ancient Roots': Perth's place at the heart of Scotland's story and the birth of Scotland as the Kingdom of Alba.
  • 'Modern Scots': Perth's equally central role in the 20th century Scottish Cultural Renaissance.


  • The Council seek to secure resources for investment in a re-imagined Perth Museum & Art Gallery
  • The Council review site options for a new cultural attraction through independent appraisal and market testing and thereafter undertake detailed design and fundraising
  • The Council improve access to attractions within and around the city

Big Move 8: Business tourism

Perth has a long history of hosting small and medium-sized conferences and the opening of the Concert Hall has created an excellent venue, adaptable and with a full range of modern facilities. Perth's central location and fast links to all Scotland's major cities makes it an ideal location for national or international events, but Perth is not fulfilling its potential as a centre for business tourism.


  • The Council, in collaboration with Scottish Development International, establish the investment case for new 4/5 star hotel accommodation
  • The Council, VisitScotland, venue and hotel operators develop a convention bureau function and promote this through Invest In Perth