Long-delayed work on Perth City Hall will restart within days, as culture chiefs finalise their plans to display Stone of Destiny.
Construction at the city centre building was scheduled to begin last spring, but was halted indefinitely when the country went into lockdown.
The Courier can now reveal that preliminary work will get under way this month, with crews expected to arrive on site in February.
The £26.5 million project received a massive boost just before Christmas, after it was confirmed that the Stone of Destiny would be removed from Edinburgh Castle and returned to the Fair City.
It followed a hard-fought campaign by Perth and Kinross Council – backed by this paper – for the ancient coronation seat to take pride of place in the new city hall museum.
The authority is now working alongside experts from across Britain to determine how best to exhibit the relic.
Head of Culture Fiona Robertson, who is leading the city hall project, said: “Four years’ hard work has already happened to get to this stage.
“With this brilliant news that the stone will be part of the amazing story we’re going to tell about Perth’s origins as the first capital of Scotland, the next phase of work will be even more exciting.”
She said: “How the stone is interpreted and brought to life for visitors is both a huge privilege and a huge responsibility.
“We will be building on strong relationships with national and UK experts and partners to do the stone full justice as one of the most important cultural objects in Scotland and the UK. New technology will also play its part in bringing the stone’s story to life in a respectful but engaging way.”
Ms Robertson added: “Later this month we’ll start to re-engage with local businesses and residents close to city hall to let them know about the construction schedule and when work will start.
“April 2021 is also the 100th anniversary of city hall opening as a civic building, and with our partners Culture Perth and Kinross we’re planning some fantastic online activities which will showcase the wonderful memories of City Hall which many people have shared in recent months.”
She pledged to keep up momentum, despite the impact of coronavirus restrictions. “Covid has brought huge challenges to local high streets up and down the country, but the renewal of Perth through the city hall project – and the signing of the Tay Cities Deal in December – marks a new phase in the history of our beautiful city and the wider area.”