Retail boost for Perth as £10M regeneration plan approved

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A £10 million plan to regenerate an ageing Perth retail park and create scores of jobs has been approved.

The long-awaited project will see the old B&Q site at St Catherine’s Retail Park bulldozed to make way for five new stores and a restaurant.

The move is expected attract more big name brands to the city as well as generate around 100 jobs. It could also provide a wider economic boost by luring shoppers from outside the area.

It is seen as the first stage of an overhaul of the sites on the western edge of Perth city centre, with separate £30 million plans pending for a new cinema and shopping complex – known as the Mill Quarter – at Thimblerow.

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An artists impression of how the complex could look.

St Catherine’s owner Episo Boxes, which is looking to revive the whole retail park, first announced its plan for the B&Q building nearly a decade ago, but the project stalled and was feared dead in the water amid the global economic crash.

Now plans for the boarded-up eyesore have been given the go ahead by planning bosses.

Local councillor Pete Barrett welcomed the redevelopment, which he said will provide a major boost to the area.

“The old B&Q store has been vacant for a long time and the empty units look very tired,” he said. “I hope that this will provide the successful formula for attracting new tenants and stores to St Catherine’s retail park which is bound to help existing stores there, securing local jobs as well as adding around 100 new jobs to Perth.”

He added: “I am excited at the prospect of St Catherine’s Park combined with the Mill Quarter development to re-energise and revitalise the western portion of the city centre.”

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The old B&Q building as it stands today.

In his report backing the redevelopment, planning officer John Williamson said the whole retail park would be updated as part of a wider regeneration plan.

He said approving the plan would “create new job opportunities which will be of benefit to the local economy.”

The old DIY store has been vacant for about a decade, but was most recently used as a base for the charity Computers 4 Africa.

This year, vandals have broken into the building and set fire to rubbish inside.

Owners have been forced to step up security to prevent further attacks.

In a statement to planners, a spokesman for Episo said: “The purpose of the regeneration of St Catherine’s Retail Park North is to inject new life into a dated 1980s first-generation retail park, generate new interest and ultimately encourage new tenants.”

He added: “This improvement will reinforce Perth city centre as a retail destination within its peer group.”

Expresso Property, the group behind the Mill Quarter development, is finalising a planning application for the site. Bosses want to open the complex – which will bring an extra 300,000 people into the city – by 2019.