The YMCA has won permission to demolish an iconic Perth kirk.
Charity bosses want to bulldoze the 130-year-old St Andrew’s and St Stephen’s Church in Atholl Street, and pave the way for a new operations centre and 21 flats.
The move was criticised by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), who said tearing down the building would be a “significant loss” for the city.
But the heritage authority – which originally objected to the plan – said it would not stand in the way of the redevelopment, after learning about the sorry state of the building.
Local businessman Derek Petterson has backed the demolition, claiming the crumbling church had become “a massive eyesore on one of the busiest streets in Perth”.
Now Perth and Kinross Council has rubber-stamped listed building and conservation area consent for the demolition work. A separate planning application for the YMCA’s flats plan will be decided soon.
In his report, planning officer John Williamson said that the council had issued three “serious disrepair notices” against the building since 1989.
“Further structural assessments, carried out in 2009 and 2012, noted failure of the first floor joist seatings and likely settlement of foundations,” he said. “Some basic repairs were undertaken in 1989 but building has deteriorated since.
“A further report from Scott Bennetts Associates dated March 2016 concludes that the building has fallen into a further state of disrepair and concludes the retention and repair would be cost prohibitive.”
Mr Williamson said: “The poor condition of the existing buildings is evident during site inspection and that the demolition will allow for a new development to come forward and bring the site back into active use to the overall benefit of the conservation area.”
He said the outstanding planning application was “generally considered to be acceptable.”
No one was available to speak about the development at the Perth-based YMCA but chief executive Jill McGrath previously said the new centre will be “great benefit” to local young people, groups and communities “leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come”.
If approved, the new flats – a mix of one and two bedroom apartments over three storeys – will be run by the Caledonia Housing Association.