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Mill Street

Posted on September 2, 2016

Perth city centre businesses are confident short term pain will translate into financial gain when the £1.5 million Mill Street makeover is complete.

The 28-week, phased,“Cultural Quarter” project by local construction specialists Kilmac is transforming the area around Perth Concert Hall.

After consultation with business owners, the company deferred a start on the project until the popular Southern Fried Festival was over.

There have been issues with construction noise and the loss of parking and a drop off in trade for some.

But there is also confidence the results will be worth it as Perth attempts to draw more visitors into the city.

Paco Galea, the owner of Paco’s restaurant which has been in the city for 25 years, said: “Perth needs to keep developing, we can’t stand still. 15 years ago when we moved into the old printworks there was nothing here but a car park.

“It has undergone huge changes. Now I’m looking forward to seeing the project completed and the Cultural Quarter should be a great asset to the city.”

Catriona Cramb, a director with Pretty Things, opposite the concert hall, said: “We have been here 11 years now and while visitor numbers are a little down our loyal customers know we are open for business.

“Inevitably work on this scale isn’t good for business in the short term but we have been showing customers an artist’s impression of what the finished street will look like and they have been impressed.

“It should look gorgeous and will enhance the shopping experience.”

Tina McLaren runs Perth’s oldest licensed premises, The Old Ship Inn, which dates back to 1665 said she can see the transformation of the Skinnergate beginning to take shape.

“This is one of Perth’s oldest thoroughfares and it will look fabulous when the work is complete. We are getting new lighting along the Skinnergate and hopefully even Christmas lights.

“Trade has taken a wee dunt, but we have a great relationship with the Kilmac workmen and they have made sure customers are getting access to the pub.”

“Business as usual” signs at the construction site at the Horsecross and in the Skinnergate have helped get the message across to locals and visitors alike.

Kilmac director Athole McDonald said there was bound to be short term disruption as “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” but pledged to do everything possible to ensure that disruption does not damage businesses.

“We are doing our very best to minimise it, to maintain access and keep around 20 businesses posted on our progress.

“As a local business ourselves we know how important that is to traders, whether they are local or national.

“We have also tailored working hours to minimise disruption over the weekend.”

Audrey and Harry Coates, directors at lettings specialist Belvoire, are confident businesses will enjoy benefits in the longer term.

“Parking is a problem and inevitably there is noise at times but we are looking at the bigger picture and it should look wonderful,” Audrey said.

“It is going to enhance Perth and should help businesses in the area.”

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