The Perthshire village of Inchture could be granted a new takeaway facility with public toilets and bike racks, if the plans are approved.
The Taylor family behind Mackie’s Crisps and Taypack potatoes has lodged plans with Perth and Kinross Council to turn a former telephone exchange in the village of Inchture into a thriving coffee and cake takeaway.
As the building and land around it has already been sold to the family, George Taylor, who has submitted the planning application, hopes to turn the “village eyesore” into something that can benefit the community.
George said: “I wanted it initially for one main reason, which is that it is the village eyesore. It’s just as you pass the church on your right. We have four cottages down the end of that road and it’s just a hideous eyesore. I think several attempts were made years ago to get planning for a house on that land but it’s not big enough for that. It just sits there, it’s falling apart and it’s covered in graffiti.
“The telephone exchange came up for sale a good number of years ago, which I know because my father was involved in it. It was in an auction and I think they were selling off all the old telephone exchanges that were obsolete in Scotland at the time.
“So my father went through, I’m guessing about 20 years ago, to an auction in Glasgow and was outbid on the Inchture one by somebody else at that time. But more recently, I was approached by the then owner – I think the daughter of the chap who originally bought it – asking us if we wanted it.
“We really had two options with it. It was either that we applied for a demolition warrant because the building’s not particularly safe in its current state, or we do something that might enhance the village or be a good facility for the village.”
With his plan to make the derelict structure into a small food and drink takeaway, George and his family also hope to add bike racks and public toilet facilities for the village.
He said: “I got an architect on board and our initial idea was, especially given what we’ve been through in the past 18 months with more people doing takeaways etc., we didn’t think it was a big enough site to have a sort of sit-in cafe but we thought it would be ideal for a conversion for a coffee and cake facility.
“We want to sell really good coffee, on the same level as your Costas or Starbucks. We thought that would be quite nice for the village with some outdoor seating and it will also incorporate public toilet facilities, which the village currently doesn’t have, and will be open during opening hours for people regardless of whether they use the cafe or not.
“As there are a lot of cycling paths through Inchture, we’re going to incorporate a bike rack where people can come through and sit down and have a coffee. Also, twice a day, parents are dropping off their kids at Inchture Primary School, which has grown rapidly over the last few years, we thought this cafe would be quite a nice place for them to meet as well.”
The family also has other ties to the building which George hopes to bring together if the planning permission is granted.
He continues: “I run Mackie’s Crisps down at Errol and the building there was previously a brickworks. I am led to believe that the telephone exchange in Inchture was built using old brick from that brickworks, so it’s kind of all connected in a way and we’re trying to have it in-keeping with what it’s been and what it becomes.
“What we’ve tried to do with the design of the building is to keep the existing brick building in its current format, though it needs to be re-roofed and we need to get the graffiti off. So we’re going to actually keep the old telephone exchange as it is and then we’re adding a separate facility, which will be more for the cafe’s storage, then the loos and then the outdoor seating and the bike rack.
“I really don’t know how we’ll get on with planning because there will be people who just don’t want change and you’ll get others who think it’s a great idea. But we’ve got our fingers crossed and hopefully there will be a positive response to it anyway.”
If permission is granted, George says the family plan to run the coffee takeaway themselves initially before creating jobs and bringing others in to help.
“At the moment, the plan is to, not that we have a huge amount of experience in this type of thing, but the plan will be to run it ourselves. We’ll obviously employ people that have got the experience to do this too, so there’s potential to create a number of jobs as well because we plan to be open seven days a week and it will take two to man it at all times.
“As soon as we get planning for it and we start to build then we’ll look to recruit and to get people to run it for us.”
Public comments on the plans can be lodged with the council until May 3 here.