June 2023 Progress update
The journey to restore, redevelop and repurpose the site of the historic Drummond Arms building has reached a new milestone. As you will see, scaffolding has been erected around the entire front facade of the building to increase the level of debris protection for the High Street. This will allow DARL, the regeneration company formed by Crieff Community Trust and tasked with ensuring that the future of the site has an outcome that is positive for both the community and the local economy, to continue to work with professional consultants and specialists to determine the most cost effective and beneficial way forward for the site, be that demolition, façade retention or complete building retention. At this stage the costs clearly favour retaining the High St and Hill St facades, with the roof removed.
Two important factors should be remembered in this part of the story. Crieff Community Trust is a community-based group who work to bring about improvements to the physical, economic, and social environment of their town, and the regeneration and repurposing of such an important building has become a major part of their work too. It has been a long and difficult journey for them however huge progress has been made and a successful outcome is now in sight.
Secondly, The Drummond Arms is a listed building. Being listed marks its special architectural and historic significance and protects it for current and future generations to enjoy. A building may be listed due to its age, its rarity, its aesthetic appeal or because it represents just a select few of its kind that are still standing. The Drummond is one and all of these. Consent for demolition of a listed building is only granted in exceptional circumstances and these do not yet exist in this case. Indeed, the very opposite is true.
There is now an opportunity to make the next stage of this extraordinary journey one that will see the building again welcome the local community, play host to visitors from afar, and become the heartbeat at the centre of the town once more. DARL are working closely with a preferred partner who have a proven track record of breathing life into old buildings and turning them into successful and thriving hospitality venues. An independent Scottish hospitality business, they are always keen to honour the legacy of the properties they take on and have a strong community ethos, creating hospitality experiences that have a positive and vital impact on people, whether team, customers, partners, or local communities. DARL believes that this potential partner has the vision and experience to take on a project such as the Drummond Arms, and of course it will take a strong partnership to bring this vision to reality.
Over 150 years ago the Drummond Arms opened its doors in the centre of Crieff. It was the place where thousands of locals and visitors would make memories that would stay with them forever. A place that was a major part of the economic fabric of the town, an iconic statue set against its skyline. A century and a half later it is looking ever more possible that these same doors could be opening once more and bringing with it a much needed economic and social improvement to Crieff. This new regeneration project would be modern and vibrant with a strong community focus as a necessary part of the building’s redevelopment. Something that will certainly reignite a passion for Crieff in both its inhabitants and tourists alike.
May 2022 – An update on first phase of Drummond Arms regeneration
Community Trust acquired ownership of the former Drummond Arms Hotel and its outbuildings for the community in 2019. Drummond Arms Regeneration Limited ( DARL) was created to raise funds and oversee the work that would be necessary to make the Category B listed building safer and explore options for the future of the iconic building.
When CCT acquired the building the Drummond Arms Hotel had been abandoned by its owner for decades and was crumbling down and in a dangerous state of repair. It had a negative conservation deficit value of about £3 million. However, as a Grade B-listed building the former hotel has statutory protection, which means that there are strict limits on what can be done and listed building consent is necessary for almost any repairs or changes. For example listed building consent is required even for removing asbestos, wood, steel and other things from the building or adding the recent window coverings. It’s also worth knowing that it is highly unlikely that Historic Environment Scotland would allow the building to be knocked down, because of its listed status and local value.
In 2020 DARL received £600,000 from Perth and Kinross Council’s Town Centre Regeneration Fund. Whilst this is a great deal of money, it was not enough to complete any of the major repair tasks. Sadly the inside of the former hotel had completely rotted because of the many leaks in the roof. Lead was stolen from the roof a number of years ago and water had cascaded through over the years and soaked into every wooden joist and piece of flooring, rendering the interior just a soggy mess.
It was decided that Phase One of the project would be to make the building safer and this phase is now almost complete. Protection has been put around the roof to stop roof tiles falling, the windows have been boarded up and various condition surveys carried out, which have greatly increased knowledge of the state of the building. With the help of a specialist contractor a significant amount of the asbestos in the building has been removed ( this had to be done irrespective of the building’s future) together with a soft strip out of rotted material. However, the amount of asbestos present was several times more than what was originally anticipated.
A further grant from Perth and Kinross Council permitted the commissioning of temporary artwork designs by local artists to be placed at the boarded-up windows, as well as a general clearing away of vegetation from the building’s facade.
Recently, with further support from Perth and Kinross Council and some additional grant awards, DARL secured ownership of the ground floor former Royal Bank of Scotland premises. The restoration of these buildings to joint ownership will gr
eatly facilitate development of the project and the wider regeneration of the High Street. The conjoined buildings are also more attractive for Historic Environment Scotland and National Lottery Enterprise Fund grant support.
Phase Two will require additional grant support and be used to complete the removal of the remaining asbestos, soft strip and then repair the roof and main fabric of the building. The former hotel, as a development opportunity, would then have lost its negative value and Phase Three would involve attracting investment to convert the building into a marketable and regenerative asset.
Ways forward for The Drummond Arms – breathing new life into Crieff town centre
For generations of Crieff folk and visitors to the town, the Drummond Arms Hotel was at the centre of the community. Whether it was your first legal pint, your cousin’s wedding or your club’s Burns Supper, the Drummond was there when you needed it. Now, the Drummond needs you!
For the past nine years, members of Crieff Community Trust (CCT) have worked tirelessly to navigate countless obstacles to take ownership of the former Drummond Arms Hotel in James Square, Crieff from an unwilling seller. The property, which is on the national Buildings at Risk Register, is Grade B listed and sits in the heart of Crieff Conservation Area . It has fallen into major disrepair, and having been left empty for many years, has given rise to dangerous situations over the past few years.
The Crieff Community Action Plan 2013-18 identified that Crieff’s priority was to tackle the derelict buildings and improve the town centre, and the Drummond is seen as the catalyst for change. The Trust secured a Community Right to Buy on the property in 2014 which made it possible to eventually acquire the building in October 2019.
The Trust set up a trading subsidiary company Drummond Arms Regeneration Limited (DARL) in August 2019 to take ownership and to carry out works to make the building safe and secure including the erection of scaffolding to make emergency repairs and prevent further damage from loose objects falling. This was made possible by support and funding from Perth and Kinross Council’s (PKC) Town Centre Fund which has contributed greatly to the efforts to make the building safe and enable development. Condition reports confirm that in a conservation context the building is salvageable. The roof structure is at present also repairable but in poor condition with recommendations of 1-2 years before potential failure. Whether the building is economically salvageable must be identified.
A design team, has been working on an options appraisal for various residential, hostel and heritage centre options. All residential options incur a large conservation deficit but also much of the demand for affordable and high-end housing in Crieff has now been met. DARL continues to develop and investigate potential options for this iconic town centre building. Work is being done with local partners to develop the building as part of the vision of Crieff as a creative and cultural destination where artists, makers and producers rent affordable workshops and can provide craft and skills training on-site alongside retail and exhibition space. With business support provided for local SMEs and the potential for creating a hostel on the top floors, a strong cultural economy for Crieff is envisaged.
Any specific enquiries can be sent to the Project Development Coordinator: