Perth City Hall could be transformed into a multi-million-pound visitor attraction to house the Stone of Destiny, council chiefs have confirmed.
A final plan for the Edwardian-era venue will go before councillors next week, ending more than a decade of uncertainty.
The council has revealed that its preferred option for the building will be a new visual arts complex with modern exhibition space. If approved, the hall would be used to display some of the local authority’s extensive collection, much of which is currently kept in storage.
And it is hoped that the Stone of Scone, the coronation seat of ancient Scottish monarchs, will be at the heart of the venue.
The move has been described by Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart as an “almost perfect” solution to the long-standing city hall saga.
Council leader Ian Miller announced on Monday that he planned to make a formal bid to have the stone brought home to Perthshire.
He said: “The future of Perth City Hall has been hotly debated over the years, but I believe that it has the potential to become a valuable asset to the city as the preferred location for developing a new cultural attraction of national significance in Perth.”
Mr Miller, who believes the new venue could attract about 160,000 extra visitors to the city each year, said: “Throughout our discussions about Perth City Hall, the council has remained consistent in our aim to secure a viable future for the site which would maximise the economic return for the city and the wider area.
“I believe that transforming the city hall to develop a major visual arts attraction will do exactly that.”
- For much more on the plans to bring the Stone of Destiny to Perth, see Wednesday’s Courier
It will cost £20 million to transform the hall and also make improvements to the city’s existing museum and art gallery.
A need for a new cultural attraction was identified in the adopted Perth City Plan, a vision for the next 20 years development by the private sector led Perth City Development Board.
Earlier this year, councillors instructed senior officers to progress appraisals for the new attraction. They found that the city hall was the prime location for such a development.
Details of the new development have yet to be revealed, but the proposal would see the hall remodelled to host displays. The council also plans to upgrade public areas around the building to create “a more dynamic civic space”.
Mr Miller said: “Over the years, we have had many proposals for how Perth City Hall could be used, but they have all failed to materialise.
“I believe that this is a realistic and exciting option which sees this important city centre location retained in public use and ownership and developed in a way which will vastly increase its attractiveness to tourists locally and from overseas.”
He said: “Redeveloping the city hall will also provide us with a potential venue to offer the Stone of Destiny in the very heart of the city, if councillors back my call to make a formal request for it to be relocated here.
“This proposal could be a real game changer for the city of Perth and I hope that everyone will rally round and give their full support.”