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Major demolition of Perth City Hall touted

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August 16 2005

Perth and Kinross Council have encouraged developers to come up with plans which will involve the demolition of large parts of the Grade 2 listed Perth City Hall. Three developers, Wharfside, Linacre and Henry Boot, were invited to tender in 2004. Each submitted plans, which involved retaining the full footprint of the existing town hall but introducing glazed sections into existing stone elevations. All of the schemes were for retail space, aimed at a major fashion house, a sector that cannot find adequate rental space in the city currently. “After we had come up with our first scheme the council came back to us and asked us to look at addressing the relationship of the city hall to St John’s Kirk and the public space in between,” said Stuart Campbell, of the Hugh Martin Partnership, architects for two projects submitted by Linacre Developments.
Henry Boot also submitted a different scheme after consultations with the council’s Estate Services department. “Linacre took away all of the building other than front section and replaced it with a big glass work which created far larger public realm space between the city hall and the Kirk. Henry Boot took away the lesser hall that is nearest the Kirk and put up a glass end or a glazed curtain which again created a slightly bigger space than their first scheme,” said Jim Low, manager of commercial estate services at Perth and Kinross Council. The council no longer have use for the civic spaces in the 19th century building since the recent completion of the concert hall. However the building is guarded by Grade 2 listing. “We recognise that any plan would have to satisfy Historic Scotland. We are in discussion with them but there is no intimation yet how they feel about it,” said Low.
An extensive public consultation exercise has just been completed, with the five schemes on show for nearly two months in all and no developer being championed above the other. Going on anecdotal evidence however, schemes that were entered before the council’s comments were preferred by the public. Wharfside Regeneration did not resubmit a further plan with a reduced footprint. “We didn’t feel that extra public realm was what the area needed,” said Brian Tanner, one of the directors at Wharfside. The developers have stuck with the scheme as it was first designed by John Lyall and Partners. Asked whether the second schemes were deliberately more invasive to the building, in order to shed a better light on the originals, developers declined to comment.

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