Unsightly vegetation sprouting from city centre rooftops and rubbish-strewn river banks are discouraging investment in Perth, a heritage watchdog has warned.
The Perth Civic Trust has called for urgent action to spruce up some of the city’s most historic streets.
In his annual report, chairman David MacLeHose praises the broad aims of the Perth City Plan – a 20-year vision for the Fair City’s future – but said council bosses need to focus more on seemingly “neglected and unloved” streets on the edge of the city centre.
He said that without action, Perth will become less attractive to investors and will leave the Tory-led adminstration facing a “debilitating legacy”.
“Looking forward, the vitality of the future of Perth remains in balance,” Mr MacLeHose said.
“The council’s strategic ideas appear to be ignoring important immediate concerns.
“The Perth City Plan to 2035 is a fine document presented by well intentioned parties. The targets are some years ahead.
“Meantime some of Perth’s important streets and buildings appear unsightly, too often with uneven pavements, decoration in poor condition, and two vital omissions – the area just outside the city centre and the River Tay.
“What is needed is more than tinkering at the edges.”
He added: “The environment works in Mill Street, the High Street and St John Street are a good start.
“Now South Street and Atholl Street both desperately require a face-lift. These are the main thoroughfares into our city. Currently they show off these areas of Perth as unloved and neglected suburbs.
“Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Mr MacLeHose has applauded the council’s campaign to re-use upper storeys of city centre buildings as a “way to bring more life to our city”.
But he said the banks of the River Tay – “an important resource which Perth should be promoting strongly” – were strewn with detritus, fallen trees and rubbish.
“We understand that the council has no plan to remedy this unsightly position. Why not?
“So too is the growing greenery at chimney levels across the city. Practical difficulties of ownership of buildings, insurance liabilities and contractual obligations must be overcome to clean Perth’s skyline.”
He added: “Without remedies for these real world problems, the attraction of Perth to potential incoming investors remains in doubt.”
In response, council leader Murray Lyle has confirmed a campaign to spruce up Atholl Street is in the pipeline, supported by City Heritage Funding. He pledged to work with property owners and the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust to address disrepair and make improvements.
He said: “We have a commonly agreed vision for the growth of Perth, based on the success of other long and short-term initiatives that both the public and private sectors have delivered upon.
“This has led to funding being committed to deliver the infrastructure needed to grow Perth, and ongoing action from public and private partners to provide education, skills and business support to grow the economy.”
John Bullough, who chairs the Perth City Development Board, added: “Continuing the collaboration between the local business sector and the council is key to the future success and growth of the city, alongside its links to the surrounding area and region.”
He said some themes of the 2035 vision were under review, partly because some aims – including work on Mill Steet and City Hall – were progressing well.
“Every part of the plan is there to make Perth a more attractive place to live, work and visit,” Mr Bullough continued.
“This is at the heart of everything the board does and I look forward to presenting the results of the review when it has been approved by elected members.”