The Courier

Officers’ mess at old POW camp could be transformed

Cultybraggan Camp, Comrie, has become a hugely popular visitor attraction.

Ambitious plans to breathe new life into an officers’ mess at an old Prisoner of War compound have been unveiled.

The Comrie Development Trust wants to transform two neighbouring Nissen huts at Cultybraggan Camp into a tea room and community hub.

The project could be key to the trust’s wider campaign to redevelop the camp as a major visitor attraction.

The site was once home to 4,000 category A prisoners from some of the most fanatical Nazi organisations, such as the Waffen SS.

The development trust, which now owns the site, has been working to put the camp on the tourist trail and recently hosted an open day with live music and actors in war-time uniform.

It is hoped the new community hub will be a catalyst for more activity and development at the camp, which is the last of its kind in Scotland.

Architect John Hannay said the two huts – numbers 26 and 27 – were originally designed for guard accommodation.

“In the transition to army camp in the late 1940s, the huts were linked with a rendered flat roof building and used as an officers mess,” he said in paperwork lodged with Perth and Kinross Council.

The camp is now used by a variety of local groups, including cubs, guides and Comrie in Colour. Mr Hannay said: “The present level of use has created a requirement for a meeting space with toilets.

“A cafe or tea room would be an obvious attraction and these facilities would attract further groups, encourage interaction and foster a greater community spirit at the camp.”

He said: “Recent work by the trust to redevelop the camp as a visitor attraction has resulted in an increase in visitor numbers and enquiries from tour groups.

“Satisfying this demand (for improved facilities) would permit a more robust marketing strategy, provide further employment and create revenue for reinvestment in the camp.”

Mr Hannay, of Hannay Mclaren Architects, added: “The development of huts 26 and 27 would permit an increase in the number, diversity and quality of users, visitors and events at the camp.

“One of the other hut owners has lodged an interest in running the cafe/tea room as an extension to his catering business. This would allow food to be prepared elsewhere and heated up on site, thus entailing a simpler set up.”

Earlier this week, the trust revealed how money left by former POW Heinrich Steinmeyer was helping local groups.

Planning officers are expected to rule on the cafe application in the coming weeks.