Crieff cinema development given the go-ahead

Councillors have unanimously granted an appeal for a cinema, community radio hub and bistro in Crieff.

Local charity Creative Crieff appealed the decision after Perth and Kinross Council’s planning department refused its Leadenflower Cinema and Community Radio Hub development in December 2022.

You are reading: Crieff cinema development given the go-ahead

The refusal came only a year after PKC committed £200,000 towards the project.

On Monday, March 13 councillors on the Local Review Body unanimously overturned the decision and gave their approval to the proposal.

The development would involve demolishing the former Crieff Hotel and replacing it with a purpose-built two-screen cinema complex on the East High Street site.

The former Crieff Hotel in East High Street
The former Crieff Hotel in East High Street (Image: Strathearn Snapshots)

As well as a cinema, the design includes a state-of-art community radio hub for Radio Earn, a courtyard, bookshop and bistro.

In December 2022 the application was refused by council officers due to it being deemed the modern design “would have an adverse impact on the character and visual amenity of the site”.

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The site is within Crieff Conservation Area but councillors observed how the buildings opposite are of a modern design.

Crieff Hotel was built in 1901 with a more recent flat-roofed extension to the rear and has lain vacant for the past six years.

Councillors were told conservation area consent for the demolition of the hotel building currently on the site was refused at the same time as the previous separate application for planning permission. Conservation consent for the demolition cannot be granted until an approved scheme is in place. Creative Crieff will now have to apply again for permission to demolish Crieff Hotel.

Conservative councillor Bob Brawn
Conservative councillor Bob Brawn (Image: Angus Forbes)

Convener Bob Brawn described the appeal as “an unusual one” for the Local Review Body.

He said: “It’s in a conservation area and I feel in cases like this we need to ask three questions:

  • What are we conserving in the first place?
  • Does the project outweigh those needs?
  • What is the effect on the conservation area if we are to proceed?

“This is a High Street. It’s not in the centre of Crieff. It’s on the east side. Buildings here are very different and traditional in their own way but quite modern as well so I feel to some extent the conservation part of it has been depleted.

“Secondly, it is a dilapidated building. It’s in a poor condition and I feel that anyone coming in here – even another hotelier – would have to demolish that building. I think it’s too far gone to refurbish in any way.”

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He added: “It will have a considerable economic impact I think on this end of the High Street. There are other businesses that I’m sure will benefit from this being there.

“It is a contemporary design certainly and – to some extent – pushing the envelope for this site. My thoughts are the economic benefits of a cinema would outweigh the needs of a conservation area.”

SNP councillor Ian Massie agreed as did Independent councillor Dave Cuthbert.

Cllr Cuthbert added: “In principle conservation areas are very important and I’ve done a lot in the past to defend buildings in conservation areas.”

But he argued conservation was not about “not allowing things to change”.

He added:”I quite like the design. It has a 1920s feel. I’m actually quite jealous and wouldn’t mind having something quite similar in Kinross.”

The appeal was unanimously granted with a request for conditions relating to an archaeological site survey prior to any works, noise management controls, controls on the hours of operation and for the developer to use as much of the former building’s materials as possible.

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