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Historic Scotland appraise Perth City Hall demolition plan

June 18 2010

Historic Scotland appraise Perth City Hall demolition plan
Historic Scotland is to look into Perth City Council’s decision to demolish the B listed City Hall as the heritage watchdog continues with a survey of the city’s historic architecture.

Council chiefs have voted to demolish the historic 1908 concert venue so as to allow construction of a new “public space” to occupy the levelled site. This  follows a survey which indicated that hard up Perth Council tax payers, lumbered with rising maintenance costs on the crumbling building, favour calling in the wrecking crews for a venue which has been surplus to requirements since a new £19m concert hall opened.

Proponents of the wrecking ball argue that clearance will eliminate a source of blight and boost the local economy through increased growth and development opportunities.

This follows repeated prevarication by developers Wharfside Regeneration who had promised to turn the halls into a speciality shopping and restaurant centre, these dreams faltered however over difficulty in securing tenants.  

Alternative proposals for the reuse of the building as an arts based social enterprise company, Artspace, similarly floundered after the Council ridiculed the financial foundations of the scheme which rested on an email from RBS and a letter from a private backer expressing interest which did not: “allow an appropriate assessment of the scheme’s viability”, according to Jim Irons, depute chief executive of Perth & Kinross Council.

Irene Watson, founder of artSPACE remained adamant however that their scheme for a community arts centre was fully funded by a private bank, saying: “We have funding in place so we will be looking for a new venue and possibly a new region to work in if nothing is available in Perth. We will be looking for a council which can provide us with a building and/or support.”
Plans for a civic sq in Perth are proving to be nearly as controversial as those in Aberdeen
Plans for a civic sq in Perth are proving to be nearly as controversial as those in Aberdeen


#1 Posted by Alan on 18 Jun 2010 at 16:26 PM
A magnificent and prestigious building! Anyone who seriously contemplates demolition needs to be locked up. Any councillor backing this plan isn't fit to be one!
#2 Posted by D.E.Spair on 18 Jun 2010 at 16:35 PM
Read and weep at the lunacy of Councils and Councillors
James Tallent
#3 Posted by James Tallent on 19 Jun 2010 at 12:11 PM
This must be one of the finest buildings of its kind in Scotland. It would be disgraceful to have it pulled down. A town of 45,000 cannot be so crowded that it needs any more space in its town centre.
Iain Craig
#4 Posted by Iain Craig on 21 Jun 2010 at 13:55 PM
The fact that its even possible for things to get to this stage, says a lot about how our historic buildings are being treated in Scotland. Perth and Kinross council ought to be ashamed of themselves. Utterly stupid and short sighted. I'm appalled.
#5 Posted by D.E.Spair on 21 Jun 2010 at 15:06 PM
Yes, and it's not an isolated case is it? It would be interesting to know the exact figures of how many listed buildings have been demolished in recent times, or are have been granted permission for demolition in the near future when capable of repair and re-use.

The economic downturn is obviously causing temporary problems with finding new uses, but when the buildings are gone that's pretty final.
The Flâneur
#6 Posted by The Flâneur on 21 Jun 2010 at 19:58 PM
The thing is when you look at the PKC report, and how this is scored, demolition emerges as the lowest risk option bizarrely because the other options are hamstrung by the listed nature of the building and having to work around the existing fabric. For instance try adapting it to retail use and you have months of negotiations before you can start on site etc therefore that adds to risk, time, and cost leading to reduced profit. It’s all a bit topsy-turvy. And then in a moment of unintentional hilarity it turns out the model they are looking at for a civic square is Glasgow’s George Square as a 365 day a year active square surrounded by grand architecture! I do hope someone in Perth caught sight of this weekend’s Sunday Herald with both Joanna Blythman and Muriel Gray roundly criticising the crass commercialisation of George Square…

#7 Posted by D.E.Spair on 21 Jun 2010 at 21:55 PM
The point of listing surely is to ensure the retention of important buildings is the No 1 priority? Of course it's not always the most convenient and not always the most profitable thing to do.

This must surely go to inquiry, and the same rigourous scrutiny applied to any report findings as happened at Edinburgh's Clerk Street Odeon.

#8 Posted by scott on 5 Oct 2010 at 01:30 AM
This is just typical of Perth and Kinross Council. A bunch of incompentent muppets as usual making wrong decisions. We pay our taxes so that the right decisions are made and the people of Perthshire should be the onces to decide what happens with the city hall, not a faceless council. The way that the council have behaved over the years has held Perth back. Every second shop is empty!!! Major high street businesses have left e.g. Virgin Records, MVC and countless others and yet this so called council claims that Perth is a 'city'. I was always of the opinion that a 'city' would have thing in it to start with such as decent shops, ten pin bowling to keep youths off the streets, more than once cinema etc....but yet again our so called council would rather have more houses built and waste time and OUR MONEY over pointless debates. Perth is a very beautiful and historic place that we should maintain and be proud of and we should keep OUR city hall as a symbol of our history. The only thing about Perth that lets us down is the very small and narrow minded council that governs our town.

#9 Posted by james on 5 Oct 2010 at 11:42 AM
So, P+K Council's unique ability to suck the life and energy from communities comes to the centre of Perth. For those who might be surprised that a Council could demonstrate quite such high levels of incompetence and disregard for the environment, I recommend you visit Kinross, an outpost of the P+K Council empire of dust. The core of this modest but historic town has been left to crumble and decay as successive buildings - most owned by the Council itself - have been allowed to fall into boarded up decay. The Library (a shell for over 10 years), the School and the old Health Centre feature an interesting selection of the window-boarder's craft. Now the elegant County Buildings are to head the same way. In a public sector mirroring of the process by which shopping streets become substituted by decorated factory sheds in retail parks, P+K Council has adopted the same policy for public buildings - concentrating all services in a green field site of the new community campus. Shame on a Council bereft of competence, imagination and vision.
#10 Posted by John on 28 Jun 2011 at 17:45 PM
Any building becomes an eyesore if derelict - so use it! It is a beautiful stone building that is wasted at present. Do not allow demolition.
Robert Booth
#11 Posted by Robert Booth on 29 Jun 2011 at 12:14 PM
If Historic Scotland does not oppose the demolition of this building, what is it there for? The idea that Perth is trying to sell itself as a dynamic town worthy of attracting City Status, while at the same time incapable of finding a use for the fine old listed 'city' halls speaks volumes. I am wondering if Prince Charles, with his love of traditional architecture and heritage, will be influenced by this in deciding which town wins City Status. The council's obvious PR job to sell the new square idea is depressing. If squares were the answer to economic development, squares would be popping up everywhere. Most small towns in Scotland would have three squares right away. I sometimes think I am living in a dream.
#12 Posted by Martin on 11 Aug 2011 at 21:31 PM
Oh dear. Come to Coventry and see what happens when you demolish old buildings and replace with empty spaces. You get a dead, soulless, empty void filled with litter and dreary paving. Italian Piazzas work in Italy. They don't work cold, rainy Britain!
henry morison
#13 Posted by henry morison on 11 Aug 2011 at 21:54 PM
Really shocking decision. This is the best building in town. Why destroy this one not one square 1960s and 70s. Instead why are the council focusing on the most historic buildings. This is so sad that we have no respect in this country for our own history
#14 Posted by emma on 13 Aug 2011 at 22:11 PM
BBC Towns programme highlighted this horrendous idea. How about artist space such as WASPS in Glasgow?, keeping the facade/roof and using the inside as an open area? (it's scotland it gets wet), surely there is a use for this building. No need for a piazza style hole in perth, goes against the whole plan of the town.
#15 Posted by Paul on 16 Aug 2011 at 21:15 PM
Perth and Scotland should be ashamed if this building is pulled down. The council are living in a 1960's time warp. Learn from the mistakes of other towns and cities. Any cleared area would be a magnet for drunks and anti social behaviour especially at weekends.
#16 Posted by Joe on 17 Aug 2011 at 01:29 AM
Check out
It is an old market in Valencia stunningly reinvented for today - they should use the building like this, it would be great in rainy Scotland
#17 Posted by liz on 23 Aug 2011 at 20:27 PM
I live in Perth and I don't want any changed made to it, it's perfect!
#18 Posted by Stephen on 29 Oct 2011 at 02:55 AM
It would be a crime to pull this beautiful stone building down. We never get beautiful, monumental architecture like this anymore and they are pulling down the ones we have.
Austin Flynn
#19 Posted by Austin Flynn on 3 Nov 2011 at 12:57 PM
It is unique in terms of Scotland's architecture, it hits all the right buttons for its retention within the legal terms of being listed. Funnily enough the council's case for the decision to demolish is not one of them. If such be the case then museums, castles and many other edifices would disappear. An independent Scotland, if it happens would be a desert of conformity, as the song goes: little houses, little houses.
#20 Posted by Peter on 16 Nov 2011 at 16:55 PM
Only in Scotland would such an idea be thought of.....! A beautiful Edwardian building which could easily acquire funding from various sources (ie. National Lottery Fund). The Councillors responsible for this proposed demolition of what is a perfect venue for hundreds of different community, Arts, retail, leisure uses should really rethink what is to be a terrible lack of thought, creativity and respect for the history and architecture of Perth and Scotland. How Historic Scotland can endorse this is very worrying indeed. The Scottish Government can and will have to take over this shambles of an idea and put the Councillors in there place. I very much doubt any resident living in Perth would think this could be a good idea.....? Total Shame, Total Shambles. That's the name given to this project if it goes ahead. God Willing it wont come to that.
allan bailey
#21 Posted by allan bailey on 25 Aug 2012 at 19:19 PM
this is a beautiful building, full of charecter and history. it is rediculous that any town or city would want to remove it for the sake of more space and for a plazza square. once it is gone it can never be replaced. this is not progress but a step back. i think an alternative place in the city should be found for the square!
Alistair Clark
#22 Posted by Alistair Clark on 19 Jan 2014 at 10:21 AM
It is neither beautiful nor old. It is a soulless lump. My father was born before it was built. It sits nearly on top of the A listed St John's Kirk, the oldest, most iconic building in the city. The City Hall is a historic sapling by comparison.

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