Vegan restaurant in grounds of Perth Prison approved

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The building dates from the early 19th Century

A fine-dining vegan restaurant staffed by former offenders is to be created inside the grounds of a maximum security jail.

The Yew Tree will initially open as a cafe and bistro at the former officers' club within the grounds at Perth Prison.

The project has been given the go-ahead by Perth and Kinross Council as part of a prisoner rehabilitation scheme.

Those behind the plans hope to open the eatery in spring next year.

The restaurant is backed by social enterprise business Starting Step.

Its chief executive Dodie Piddock said: "The next stage is the building warrant, tender and invite for bids.

"I am naturally an optimist, so we are looking to be able to award the bid in early January.

"This would mean that we can open in spring, although this is all dependant on funding."

Second chance

A planning application for the A-listed former social club building - which was originally built as guardhouses in the early 19th Century - was approved last week.

It is one of three surviving buildings from a former prisoner of war complex on the site, which originally housed French inmates during the Napoleonic wars.

The property is still owned by the Scottish Prison Service, which has given its non-financial backing to The Yew Tree project.

It is named after a historic tree in the grounds of Castle Huntly prison near Dundee.

Those behind the project said its aim was to give prisoners and former offenders a second chance in life, as well as providing support for people with drug and alcohol-related mental health difficulties.

The Yew Tree will initially open as a cafe for 50 people, with future development leading to the creation of a fine dining restaurant experience with a fully vegan menu.