Pub giant JD Wetherspoon has confirmed that construction work will start on the former Woolworths premises in Blairgowrie from next week.
A spokesperson for the company also revealed that the new hostelry, to be known as The Fair o’ Blair, is set to open its doors to the public in June.
Speaking to the Blairie earlier this week, JD Wetherspoon spokesperson Eddie Gershon said: “We are pleased that building work is set to start on March 18 and are looking forward to opening our new pub in Blairgowrie in June.
“We are confident that the pub will be welcomed by people in the town and prove to be a great asset for Blairgowrie.”
Renovation work at the Allan Street premises had been due to get underway in February but was rescheduled at the last minute.
Mr Gershon said at the time that the company had numerous pubs under development at any one time, explaining that it was “a case of fitting new pubs into the schedule.”
The company initially bought the site of the one-time Poundland shop almost a year ago but, apart from some contracting work in the summer last year to remove asbestos from the premises, there has been no further movement on the development to date.
Councillor Caroline Shiers welcomed the news that work is finally getting underway at the site.
She said: “This is good news in that it will hopefully end the uncertainty that has surrounded this development for several months now.
“I know that other licensed premises in the area have been very concerned by the lack of progress and I have previously contacted Wetherspoons highlighting these concerns.
“I will be contacting Wetherspoons again to ask that they do everything possible to ensure that the construction phase of the project causes as little inconvenience as possible for residents and businesses in the immediate vicinity of the site.
“I have also previously voiced concerns on behalf of local residents and businesses about the need to control anti-social behaviour, especially at closing time and around the outside area to the rear of the premises.
“There are a lot of people who live in the area and, while Wetherspoons will have door staff, they can only operate outside the main entrance and I have concerns that there will be noise nuisance for residents further up and down Allan Street and the High Street.
“I am hopeful, however, that this will be a boost to the town, particularly in conjunction with the new Sainsbury’s opening in the High Street this year too.”
Councillor Bob Ellis added: “While it’s great to see a date for starting and the date for the opening of the doors in June, I do have concerns about the company’s ability to keep the promises that it made regarding making sure that every effort is made to keep people notified about just what is going on.
“It appears to me that JD Wetherspoon has conveyed different messages to different people along the way. Certainly the contact that I have in the company had informed me that no date has as yet been set for any work to start and, certainly, not a finish or opening date.
“I also asked that the company get involved within the Blairgowrie and Rattray community in as many ways as possible, for example, joining the Merchants’ Association and working with other local organisations.
“I would echo their spokesperson’s comment that the newly named Fair o’ Blair will prove to be an asset to the town. It will certainly bring much-needed new jobs to the area and fill the vacant space in the centre of the town.
“I am also very much aware that there are people in the area who are not in favour of this pub giant coming here as they feel it will have a negative effect on some of the other establishments.”
It is thought that when the pub does open it will boost employment in the town through a combination of up to 40 full and part-time bar and kitchen staff.
The new venue’s name is in reference to the practice of holding fairs and markets in the Wellmeadow, and includes the famous Fair o’Blair.