Nearly three-fifths of the local population has never set foot in Perth city centre after 6pm, a new study has found.
Despite the area boasting a variety of award-winning restaurants, cafes, music venues and an Art Deco cinema, the retail survey revealed thousands of people from across the Perth and Kinross region were unwilling to make a trip into the city after dark.
The research has prompted Perth and Kinross Council to draw up a multi-million-pound action plan aimed at reviving the area’s flagging nightlife.
This week, councillors will be asked to back the new “placemaking” strategy which will lead to major investment throughout the city centre, and beyond.
The local authority has already set aside £14 million for the project, which includes £5 million towards the ambitious City of Light plan.
The relocation of the famous JD Fergusson collection, freeing up the Fergusson Gallery building, is highlighted as one of the long-term aims of the scheme.
The plan also includes the creation of a “golden route” linking King Street with the city centre.
It involves enhanced pedestrian space, lighting and cycle ways to link up with improvements at the railway and bus stations.
The council is in talks with Network Rail about developing, securing and progressing designs for the scheme.
Vennels and streets around Perth City Hall will be illuminated to encourage more people to explore the area. The work is expected to start by late 2019.
The programme, which will go before members of the environment, enterprise and infrastructure committee for approval, also reveals that the Queen’s Bridge and key buildings on Tay Street will be fitted with lighting infrastructure sometime next year.
And there are further plans for new street furniture and planting to “help create dynamic changing spaces and routes (including vennels) within the city centre”. Local businesses and Beautiful Perth are helping to develop the “City Greening” plan, which designers will start work on in 2018.
A key part of the scheme will be the creation of an attractive courtyard around St Paul’s Church, which is being transformed into a new venue by the local authority.
The area is expected to be used for markets and performances and several groups have already expressed interest in using the space.
The Placemaking plan also envisages improvements and new lighting outside of Perth, in Alyth town centre, Aberfeldy Square and in Auchterarder.
City development manager John McCrone said the programme is based on aspirations laid out in the Perth City Plan, a long-term project aimed to make Perth “one of Europe’s great small cities”.
In his committee paper, he said: “Research has identified that 57% of our residents have never visited the city centre after 6pm.”
Mr McCrone said this year’s Norie-Miller Light Nights, which attract around 51,000 visits to the city centre riverside, was evidence that inventive use of lighting can bring about an economic boost and create a “significant cultural attraction”.