Thanks to a £10,000 grant award from the Peterhead Development Partnership through Aberdeenshire Council, the Peterhead Feuars Managers have appointed a specialist team of local consultants to assess how best to re-use the Town House.
A Category B listed building, the Town House is a landmark at the top end of the town’s ‘market square’ in the heart of the Peterhead Outstanding Conservation Area.
Comprising a single, distinctive symmetrical block with a prominent central steeple, it was constructed in 1788 for the Community of Feuars of the Town of Peterhead to replace a previous administrative and prison building dating back to the 1660s.
A two-storey adjoining block was added in Marischal Street in 1832 to provide a market place, a holding cell and a witness room.
The original straight external stair was replaced as a horseshoe stair in 1859 before being enclosed into its current format in 1881.
The Town House building is considered to be a fine specimen of its form and type, still retaining most of its historic integrity including its distinctive prison cellar at the heart of the principal entrance as well as much of its ornate plasterwork.
The ground floor is currently leased to the Citizens Advice Bureau, while the upper floors - formerly occupied by legal agents - are now redundant.
A recent condition survey highlighted general decay and deterioration within the Town House requiring fairly urgent work, with a recommendation that a full redevelopment of the building be undertaken.
The options appraisal, which will include community consultation and engagement, will play a key role in shaping the future use of the historic building.
Aberdeenshire Council Regeneration Executive Dr Nick Brown said: “The Town House is a landmark public building of high architectural quality and it is important for the town’s regeneration that it is used effectively and appropriately in the years ahead.
“I am encouraged that, with the support of the Peterhead Development Partnership, there is intent to create new use and, in doing so, conserve this fine, prominent town centre building.”
Peterhead Development Partnership chair Councillor Stephen Smith said: “The reuse of vacant or derelict buildings in the town centre has been identified as a high priority for the Partnership, so it’s great that efforts are being made to try and find a suitable way forward to regenerate the Town House.
“I naturally hope that a solution can be found so that the Town House can, once again, play a significant role in our town centre.”
Feuars Manager Dianne Beagrie said: “I am delighted that the Peterhead Development Partnership has made this grant award and I hope that an appropriate use or uses can be found to help secure the long-term future of this important building.”
Irrespective of the final uses identified in the options appraisal, a future action might involve inclusion of the building in a bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to help bridge any viability gap.
The Peterhead Regeneration Vision and Action Plan 2016-21 is approximately halfway through its adopted period. The Action Plan is taken forward and monitored by the Peterhead Development Partnership (PDP), involving delivery of actions and activities by multiple public sector, business and community organisations.