A massive crane has rumbled into Perth as work finally gets under way on historic St Paul’s Church.
The landmark building is being transformed by council bosses into a civic space for markets, shows and exhibitions.
The £2 million project ends years of uncertainty over the building’s future after it closed its doors for the last time in 1986.
Part of the old High Street will be shut to traffic for 60 weeks while Hadden construction crews get to work on the redevelopment.
The first phase will involve removing the slate roof of the octagonal church. The crane will be used throughout this six-week stage, although most of the material will be taken off by hand and lowered to the ground for safe disposal.
The inside of the tower will also get a thorough clean.
Council boss Murray Lyle welcomed the work. “St Paul’s is a prominent feature of the Perth skyline, and I know it was a source of sadness and frustration for residents, visitors and businesses, when it lay empty for decades and latterly fell into a state of repair.”
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He said when the authority took over the building in 2017, the aim was to create a “real feature” for the city.
“The Old High Street, South Methven Street and St Paul’s Square support a range of independent businesses, and with the development of Mill Quarter at Thimblerow as a new retail and leisure site, we had an opportunity to make St Paul’s an asset for the area,” he added.
“This investment by the council will shine a light on this part of the city centre, making it more attractive to investors and tourists, and creating a unique public space which will complement the new cultural and events spaces in Mill Street, Perth Theatre and the transformed Perth City Hall.”
Businesses around the construction site say their trade has already been hit by preliminary work which saw the site fenced off early last year.
Peter Caban, whose Bandwagon music shop is behind the church, said he feared things could get worse over the next 60 weeks.
The design of the new look building was criticised by Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust.
Chairman Sue Hendry, who said the church was the most significant building at risk in Perthshire after Taymouth Castle, said it would be turned into a “windy, dank and intimidating enclosure” and possible hang-out spot for troublemakers.