Three empty shops on Perth High Street have been transformed in a bid to encourage local businesses back to the city centre.
Perth businessman Iain Hutchison was worried about the number of shops and restaurants closing in the area, and said derelict units were putting off new tenants.
The 53-year-old used his role with Perth City Leadership Forum, a network of business owners and managers, to work with owners Perth and Kinross Council, to revive the units.
Iain was so determined to make the shops attractive to local businesses, that he initiated the works, and moved things along.
The council has said they are committed to making the city centre more attractive.
‘These units were grotty’
The units had been empty for five years and had fallen into a state of disrepair, are now in the process of becoming rentable, useable units.
Iain, enterprise and prosperity leader with the forum and founder of engineering advisers Merlin ERD, said: “We needed to make a change on the High Street.
“These units were in a grotty, horrible condition, so we needed to make them attractive again.
“I went to the council with my vision, and plans, and together we made it happen.
“As part of Perth City Leadership Forum, it’s our job to think of ways we can develop and improve Perth.
“We wanted to also create an opportunity for budding local businesses, and we encourage any local people who have a business idea to look into renting one of these units.”
This news comes as many businesses have deserted Perth, including dominant city centre chain Debenhams.
Perth businessman Iain Hutchison wants to help revive the High Street
Iain is passionate about making Perth a vibrant, attractive city again.
He said: “Perth is such a beautiful city, with a wealth of potential.
“We just need to help it to get there.
“I had begun to grow tired of seeing businesses leaving the city centre.
“I noticed that these shops had just been sitting there, so I went to the council, with an idea to develop them, so they could be rented by local people.
“I brought in local tradespeople, they helped to tidy them up, tidy up the paintwork, and transform them into useable properties.
“It took some time, but I worked with the council to make this happen.
“We had to change the look of the units, they looked awful beforehand.
“We have an opportunity here to really help local people.
“That’s what it’s all about, bringing local businesses into the city centre.”
Iain acknowledged the struggles facing small businesses during the cost of living crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.
He was moved to use his own success to help small companies starting out.
Iain said: “I felt a responsibility to make a change.
“As a business owner in Perth, it’s hard not to feel responsible to help other businesses.
“I am in a position that I could help.”
What happens next?
Perth and Kinross Council is considering what options they have with the properties.
Councillor Eric Drysdale said: “We’re committed to working with local partners to ensure that our city and rural towns thrive and we support a number of schemes to bring empty properties back into use.
“The three units on the Old High Street aren’t currently in a fully lettable condition yet, however, the work done by the housing department in recent years to clean up the shop fronts has improved the appearance of this area while work has been ongoing to consider what their long-term future will be.
“The three units are actively being looked at as part of the regeneration of the St Catherine’s Square blocks.”
For more information see the council’s website.