The key man behind the transformation of the former Hill Primary School buildings in Blairgowrie yesterday described the project as a “fantastic opportunity”.
Alfie Iannetta oversaw the highly-regarded £3.5 million revamp of The Black Watch Museum in Perth and was recently appointed as development director of the Ericht Trust’s Hill Primary plans.
Following an extensive community survey locally and several public meetings, the Ericht Trust wants to see the former school buildings house a cinema, local heritage hall, print industry museum, children’s activity area and upmarket hostel accommodation.
Mr Iannetta, whose part-time position is being funded by a portion of an Architectural Heritage Fund grant, said: “Blairgowrie and Rattray needs something like this to draw people into the town and keep them here. It’s a fantastic opportunity as it will give the town a central hub and provide volunteering opportunities, job opportunities and attract people in to what is now the largest town in Perth and Kinross.
“You just need to take a walk around any town or city in the UK to see the heritage we have, but there’s a plethora of old, listed, buildings not being used – it’s one of the things I feel most strongly about.”
Perth and Kinross Council’s property sub-committee recently agreed to hold off from actively marketing the site until June next year.
Mr Iannetta explained: “This demonstrates the goodwill there is within the council and how robust they feel the business plan is. It gives us time to speak to potential funders and evaluate things.
Ericht Trust chairman Ian Gordon said he felt Mr Iannetta’s expertise in dealing with heritage projects would be an invaluable asset.
He declared: “We’re delighted to have Alfie on board. We had four expressions of interest in the post and the quality of the candidates was simply first class.
“One of Alfie’s greatest strengths, as well as his wealth of experience, is that he understands the worth of the project we’re trying to bring to fruition, and the benefits it will bring to the community.”
Locals will be able to air their views on the figure – which is expected to be millions of pounds – and other issues at a planned public meeting once all the information has been collated, set to take place in early November.
A concerted fundraising effort will then be spearheaded by Mr Iannetta once a projected price tag for the overall project is known.