Pitlochry is set to lose out on nearly £400,000 of key town centre regeneration funding with the project being scrapped due to restraints caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Perth and Kinross Council admitted that a lack of staffing resources amid the coronavirus outbreak meant that the proposal to develop the Atholl Road area would not be in place by the spending deadline set out by the Scottish Government next year.
Last year councillors had agreed that £383,000 from the Town Centre Fund would be used to create an improved civic space for events and markets at the Memorial Garden in the Highland Perthshire town.
However following concerns from the community council about the lack of engagement over plans, the project was postponed with two more options put on the table and the deadline extended for the project until March 31 2021 for a plan to be agreed and September 2021 for the money to be spent.
Following a number of well attended public consultations it was agreed that the original proposal for the memorial garden should be pursued.
Despite all parties now agreeing to the original plan, it has been revealed in papers to go before councillors this week that the regeneration project will now need to be scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Elected officials will instead be asked to divide Pitlochry’s money to help the regeneration of other Perthshire towns, with officers recommending £265,ooo be spent on the former Strathearn Hotel and £100,000 on the former Crieff Hotel.
In the report approved by the interim chief operating officer at Perth and Kinross Council, Karen Donaldson, it states: “Regrettably, due to delays in agreeing and progressing the proposal concept and the impact of the subsequent coronavirus pandemic, it has not been possible to develop a proposal that supports broader regeneration and development of the adjacent site, that meets Town Centre Fund criteria, and can be delivered within predicted timescales for procurement, even within the extended timescales of the original funding.”
The papers put forward a number of setbacks in completing the project with the majority caused by the pandemic.
It reads: “There is no officer capacity within community greenspace, roads
network management and public transport to support required design
development due to priority Covid response work.
“Due to resources being redeployed to respond to identified priorities as a
result of the pandemic, there is insufficient time to procure external
“There is insufficient time to secure statutory consents that would be
Despite the setback, Highland Perthshire Independent councillor Xander McDade hopes that the removal of a deadline will see the delivery of other projects in the town with more community engagement.
He told The Courier: “Unfortunately despite significant efforts from all involved it appears it has not been possible to agree and deliver a project that meets the criteria in the timescale required.
“However, I’m pleased that the council has committed to continuing to support a project to renovate the area between the former RBS and Bank of Scotland.
“There is potential to access both council funding for this and new external funding, but as this won’t need to be rushed through to meet tight deadlines there will be the opportunity for much more significant community engagement.
“This community engagement will begin with the creation of one of the first new local place plans and will look at the community’s priorities.”