City Living Study: early findings

Importance of civic space highlighted

Improved and increased civic space in the city centre could be a key factor in drawing in new residents, the early findings of a study show.

Aberdeen City Council commissioned the report, which will be used to take forward a number of City Centre Masterplan projects aimed at delivering hundreds of new homes.

Survey findings reinforce the importance of a good quality environment in determining where people choose to live.

These included improvements to amenities, access to green space, creation of cafes and a variety of leisure destinations, and improvements to parking and public transport.

Council leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “The early findings from this City Centre Masterplan-backed study suggest that more people are ready to make their home in the heart of Aberdeen.

“That’s why we’re working with our partners to offer the right mix of housing as well as creating a city centre that has a real buzz to it.

“The Masterplan includes a range of projects to make this happen – from promoting bold new residential development opportunities to enhancing existing buildings and public spaces, such as that on Broad Street.

“I look forward to seeing the final study which will give us a clearer idea about how best to deliver that and help boost the city centre population.”

Real estate specialists Savills consulted with residents and stakeholders to identify ways to help draw people back into the city centre.

The majority of modern development in the city centre was built in the late 1990s and offers comparatively small units and of standard design. There has been little new development but this new stock – often offering larger flats and better layouts – appears to perform best.

The final part of the research will focus on the price of homes in the city centre. The City Living Study is expected to be completed in September.

Simpson Buglass, head of the Savills Aberdeen office, said: “Whilst cost, type and availability of housing were important factors for many of the respondents to our survey and participants in our workshops, many of them focused on other factors.

“These included improvements to amenities, access to green space, support for businesses, creation of cafes and a variety of leisure destinations, supportive planning policies, and improvements to parking, traffic and public transport.

“Ultimately improvements to public realm were viewed as imperative.

“Our early findings reinforce the importance of the environment in determining where people choose to live.”

The consultation, carried out earlier this year, also found that the property industry remained committed to investing in the city.

Mr Buglass said: “Of the over 600 responses we received, 244 of respondents had a professional stake in the city centre.

“These included architects, planners, residential agents, business owners and lawyers.

“Of these respondents 60% said that either they or their client had invested in Aberdeen in the last year and 55% said they or their clients planned to invest over the next year.”

A "living city for everyone" is one of the Masterplan's eight objectives and the aim is to add 3,000 new residents to the city centre over the next 25 years.

The Masterplan aims to widen the choice of housing so that a more diverse population in terms of age, income and lifestyle can enjoy an urban lifestyle.

Its 50 projects include the proposed Queen Street quarter, a new residential led mixed use development opportunity, and the proposed Torry Waterfront on the south bank of the River Dee at Torry, with new pedestrian bridge over the river.