Plans for two restaurants and gym at Perth retail unit given green light

The rejuvenation of Perth city center appears to be gaining momentum after an application to create two restaurants and a gym at an empty retail unit was approved.

The two-storey premises at 55-58 High Street, formerly an Argos branch, will also have outdoor seating areas.

It is anticipated that opening hours of the restaurants, both located on the ground floor, will be from 10am to 11pm Sunday to Thursday and 10am to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

One restaurant will seat up to 81 guests, while the other will seat up to 67.

The gymnasium will occupy the entire first floor and will be open between 7am and 10pm seven days a week in order to “provide a service to those wishing to exercise prior to work and those wishing to exercise in the evenings”.

The application – submitted by agent Bennett Developments And Consulting on behalf of Grovemoor Properties – does not detail what businesses will occupy the unit.

The unit is set to be filled for the first time since Argos closed to customers there in October 2020.

The retail chain followed nearby Beales, Carphone Warehouse, Phase Eight, GAP and the Disney store in shutting down that same year due to the severe impact of the COVID pandemic.

But the city center is continuing to show signs of recovery with this latest application to Perth and Kinross Council.

A planning bid was also lodged last month to transform the former Lakeland unit on St John Street into a restaurant and five residential flats.

Two parties have also voiced an interest in taking over the former Beales and McEwens unit next door, which closed in March 2020.

The statement lodged with the planning application to occupy the former Argos space stated: “In conclusion the proposed new restaurants and gymnasium will make a positive contribution to the local area and enhance the range of facilities and services on offer, as well as introducing new dining experiences and promoting the town center as a night as well as a day destination.”

A council report of handling added: “It is clear that the retail world is changing and this has resulted in a number of vacant units within Perth city center and other city centers across Scotland.

“It is therefore important to consider what alternative uses could be viable in city centers to ensure that the city center remains a vibrant and active place to visit and meet the requirements of the above policy criteria.

“In this instance the proposal to introduce two restaurants onto the High Street is considered to meet the requirements of Policy 10 which allows for classes two and three at ground floor level.

“This will ensure that a high and continuous degree of public contact will be retained and help contribute to the night time economy.”

However, no part of the development shall be occupied until a Travel Plan, aimed to encourage more sustainable means of travel, has been submitted and approved in writing by the council.

The Travel Plan will have particular regard to provision for walking, cycling and public transport access to and within the site and will identify the measures to be provided.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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