Two mammoth Perth infrastructure projects have both been completed in time for the Christmas rush.
Phase one of the £1.5 million Mill Street and Skinnergate makeover is ready along with the £1.7m revamp of the Canal Street car park.
The end of the work comes as the city prepares to host a glittering array of stars at the Christmas lights switch-on at the weekend.
The plaza around Perth Concert Hall will be one of the focal points of Perth’s biggest ever party on Saturday, with a ‘Rockefeller Center’ style ice pad and a stage for family entertainment.
The Canal Street car park will re-open on Saturday to welcome some of the thousands of visitors expected to descend on the city centre to see Slade, Professor Green and East 17 perform.
While a pay-on-foot system, as used at the council’s South Inch car park, is to be adopted at Canal Street, parking will initially be free to all users.
Businesses and traders have welcomed the completion of both projects, citing their huge economic benefits during the busy festive season.
Athole McDonald, Kilmac managing director of the Mill Street/Skinnergate project, underlined the importance of making sure the area was ready in time for Christmas.
He said: “We always knew it was crucial that the transformation of the Horsecross area was completed in advance of the festive season.”
Mr McDonald said more than 30 staff had “pulled out all the stops” to finish the first phase.
He added: “When the weather turned nasty we managed to continue laying the granite under cover provided by special tents.
“We’d like to thank all the businesses impacted by the development work for their patience and understanding.
“As promised at the outset, in tandem with Perth and Kinross Council, we have done our best to keep them updated with regular progress reports and ensure access was maintained during the works programme.”
Cath Todd, owner of Nikki’s Lite Bite in the Skinnergate, is looking forward to the area being decked out with Christmas lighting.
She said: “The Skinnergate now looks lovely – it certainly improves the links to the Concert Hall.
“Obviously trade was affected but it had all been planned and you just have to grin and bear it.
“The Kilmac team were very helpful, not only supporting us at lunchtime but helping with our deliveries.”
Ian Wimbury, store manager at Gillies, said the firm were glad the work was finished in time for Christmas.
“We have noticed that ‘out-of-towners’ have been steering clear because of the work being carried out,” he said.
“But we always knew the area would benefit in the long run from the investment and hopefully now we can start clawing back the lost business.”
Keith Fergie, chairman of the Perth Trader’s Association, said: “The newly improved car parking facilities will be a great benefit for residents and visitors to Perth city centre.”
Councillor John Kellas, convenor of Perth and Kinross Council’s enterprise and infrastructure committee, said he was “thrilled” the car park would open in time for the Christmas Lights switch-on.
“We are expecting an extremely large number of people in the city this weekend and being able to offer an increased parking provision can only be a benefit,” he said.