Nearly three-fifths of the local population has never set foot in Perth city centre after 6pm, a new study has found.
The retail survey revealed thousands of people from across Perth and Kinross were unwilling to make a trip into the city after dark.
The research has prompted Perth and Kinross Council to draw up a multimillion-pound action plan aimed at reviving the area’s flagging nightlife.
This week, councillors will be asked to back the new “placemaking” strategy, which will lead to major investment throughout the city centre and beyond.
The local authority has already set aside £14 million for the project, which includes £5m towards the City of Light plan. The relocation of the famous JD Fergusson collection, freeing up the Fergusson Gallery building, is highlighted as one of the long-term aims.
The plan also includes the creation of a “golden route” linking King Street with the city centre. It involves enhanced pedestrian space, lighting and cycleways to link up with improvements at the railway and bus stations.
Vennels and streets around Perth City Hall will also be illuminated to encourage more people to explore the area. Work is expected to start by late 2019.
The programme, which will go before members of the environment, enterprise and infrastructure committee for approval, also reveals that the Queen’s Bridge and buildings in Tay Street will be fitted with lighting some time next year.
And there are further plans for new street furniture and planting.
A major part of the scheme will be the creation of an attractive courtyard around St Paul’s Church, which is being transformed into a new venue by the local authority. The area is expected to be used for markets and performances and several groups have already expressed interest in using the space.
The plan also envisages improvements and new lighting outside Perth, in Alyth, Aberfeldy Square and Auchterarder.
City development manager John McCrone said in his committee paper: “Research has identified that 57% of our residents have never visited the city centre after 6pm.”
Mr McCrone said this year’s Norie-Miller Light Nights, which attracted about 51,000 visitors to the city centre riverside, was evidence that inventive use of lighting can create a “significant cultural attraction”.