...would have saved you all that lost time and plenty more in the future.
Don't overestimate what some modules do :)
URI::Escape::uri_unescape() does exactly the same substitution the OP posted, i.e. it also has exactly the same issues.
For one, it doesn't decode the UTF-8 encoded string into a single Unicode character. Rather, it just returns the two octets \xc2 \xa3 (which the OP seems to have some problem with...). In other words, your sample would only work with a UTF-8 capable terminal, which is rendering the glyph '£' when it receives the two bytes c2 a3.
$ perl -MURI::Escape -le 'print uri_unescape("%C2%A3")' | od -tx1
0000000 c2 a3 0a
And, as Devel::Peek::Dump shows, the returned string isn't decoded (a Perl Unicode string):
$ perl -MURI::Escape -MDevel::Peek -e 'Dump uri_unescape("%C2%A3")'
SV = PVMG(0x1762450) at 0x16ceff0
REFCNT = 1
FLAGS = (TEMP,POK,pPOK)
IV = 0
NV = 0
PV = 0x16e5c90 "\302\243"\0
CUR = 2
LEN = 8
This is exactly the same result the OP had achieved with his original code.
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