Cunningham Graham Close, 13-17 High Street, Perth


Completion Date:


Building owner/client:

Perth Civic Trust

Architect or lead designer:

Paul Higginson RIAS, Arc Architects Ltd

Local Authority Area:

Perth & Kinross

Nominating Body:

Perth Civic Trust

Project Description

This project involved the comprehensive repair of seven flats in the historic B listed tenement at 13-17 High Street, which is often known as Cunningham Graham Close, and two shop units on the ground floor, one of which was in the ownership of the Council through the Common Good Fund, but which had been empty for over 15 years. Comprehensive repairs to the historic fabric of the tenement project were completed in late 2015 and the shop units fitted out and bespoke new businesses opened in 2016.

By carrying out a comprehensive repairs scheme using traditional materials, the project also improved the living conditions of the residents of the 7 flats. This included comprehensive reslating including leadwork and sarking repairs; removal of cement render and masonry repairs and harling in a traditional lime harl; rebuilding a dangerous chimney; window and shop front repairs; and conservation of the close and iconic entrance to the close. A new doorway was also created from the shop into a previously inaccessible light well which was causing dampness to permeate through the walls and this will enable the drains to be cleared on a regular basis in future which was previously not possible. The project set out to: carry out common repairs to a listed building which would result in the flats being warmer, drier and more energy efficient for the occupants; refurbish the long-term empty shop unit which would enable it to be let to a business once again and ensure the long term good management of a Council owned asset; encourage the long-term heritage management of the buildings by facilitating the setting up of an Owners’ Association; empower a community based organisation to take forward a common repairs project, which they had previously been unable to do ; improve the townscape of this part of central Perth; provide an exemplar of good practice in community-based management of property in multiple ownership to encourage similar projects throughout the city. All of which has been achieved. In addition the owners’ properties were made mortgagable, with improved comfort and affordability for occupants; improved lettability for landlords; a dangerous chimney was made safe; and the Common Good Fund, through the Fraser Mortification Trust, had a shop unit that could be let and produce an ongoing income for charitable causes. Close partnership working between the Council and the Heritage Trust has been vital to the success of this project as it meant that the specialist conservation expertise of the Trust was utilised to best effect. The owners were given support by both organisations throughout the whole process and the involvement of both organisations gave the owners confidence to take forward a complex repairs project.

The project was carried out by the Owners’ Association with the support and encouragement of both Perth and Kinross Council officers and Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust through the Perth City Heritage Fund.

Supporting Statement

Perth Civic Trust was delighted to see the work done on the Cunningham Graham Close which is believed to be the oldest occupied building in Perth. It revealed and revitalised a rather run down but important historic survival and has had a significant impact on the surrounding streetscape. Insistence on the highest standards of conservation best practice in return for grant assistance from the Perth City Heritage Fund, and its implementation by the conservation accredited project architect, has transformed the tenement, brought two new high quality commercial tenants into the empty shop units and has added vitality and economic vibrancy to this area of the High Street. It is an inspiring piece of restoration and renovation to an important 17th century property and we hope it will encourage other similar developments in the city centre. We were delighted when, in 2016, independent Assessors awarded it our Biennial Award for Restoration and Renovation.