The first stage of an initiative to attract private investment in Perth’s harbour area has been completed.
Council officers are now evaluating various responses that were made to an open invitation from the harbour’s owner, Perth and Kinross Council, with a view to selling off the asset.
Nearly a year ago councillors approved the marketing of the local authority’s stake as they believed this might be the best way to ensure the future prosperity of the port.
The expressions of interest received have not yet been revealed and it is not known whether the parties behind them envisage maintaining the harbour as an industrial port, developing it for leisure purposes, or a mixture of the two.
Once the plans have been reviewed, councillors will decide if these investment opportunities should be pursued.
The prospect of investment will please many councillors as the future of the harbour is a key component in an ambitious wider project the council’s Inner Tay Masterplan.
That document sets out a vision for the transformation of the River Tay at Perth into a bustling visitor destination with water taxis, leisure craft moorings and a floating heritage centre.
Permission has already been granted for a series of pontoons on the riverfront for the use of vessels taking visitors along the water.
The development of the harbour, which lies downstream from the city, could enhance the area as viewed by tourists from the river.
The marketing process was conducted by property consultancy Bidwells.
A council spokesperson said: “The council is conducting an exercise to determine what level of interest there is from external organisations regarding the future operation and management of Perth Harbour.
“The first stage of the exercise has now been completed and we are pleased with the responses we have received.
“It has been a very positive exercise so far. The next step will be to review all of the information received and report it back to council.”
The port’s gradual decline began in the middle of the 19th Century with the arrival of the railway. It has been compounded in recent years by its geography, as the largest vessels that can berth at Perth are among the smallest being built commercially.
Over the past 20 years the council has invested nearly £2 million in the harbour and, if it retains the asset, more investment will be required.
The current value of the council’s property interests at the harbour is thought to be in the region of £750,000.