Plans for a £30 million retail and cinema project, billed as a “game changer” for Perth city centre, have been killed off by coronavirus, The Courier can reveal.
The Mill Quarter development promised to create hundreds of jobs and deliver a radical boost to the city’s flagging night-time economy.
Ambitious proposals for Thimblerow car park, at the top of the High Street, were first unveiled by Deputy First Minister John Swinney five years ago, in what he described as “a significant day for the city”.
York-based Expresso Property was working to bring brand-name restaurants, bars and a multiplex cinema to the site, as well as new shops, housing and a 200-space multi-storey car park.
However Perth and Kinross Council has now confirmed the plan has been torn up in the face of a radically changing retail landscape.
A spokesman said: “The casual dining market suffered a significant downturn before lockdown and the sector is facing even greater challenges because of Coronavirus.
“Unfortunately, this means the scheme as originally proposed can no longer be delivered commercially.
“Also, after taking into account the wider impacts of coronavirus on retail and leisure for the foreseeable future, the council has concluded there is no longer a need for an additional multi-storey car park in Perth city centre.”
He said: “As a result, the council has reluctantly agreed not to extend the current agreement with Expresso Property to develop the site as originally envisaged.”
Expresso Property said it still wants to work with the local authority on a revised scheme, with a focus on housing rather than shops.
Director Nick Robinson told The Courier: “We have invested a considerable amount of time and money on the Thimblerow site and clearly coronavirus has set further challenges.
“We look forward to working with Perth and Kinross Council to urgently deliver a new scheme that Perth can be proud of.
“We aim to retain the residential element of the original proposal to provide much needed city centre homes as soon as possible.”
At a public consultation in December 2015, Mr Robinson said the development could lure an extra 300,000 people into the city centre…