Exciting changes ahead for city centre with approval of projects from the CCMP review

Several exciting changes for the city centre were yesterday agreed at committee including a major redesign of the streetscape of Union Street, undertake a building condition survey and repair programme for all properties on Union Street, develop a permanent café culture in the Belmont Street and Back Wynd area, and install outdoor seating outside the Art Gallery.

The measures are part of a review of the City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) which was initially agreed in 2015 and is currently being refreshed to help the area recover after the effects of Covid-19.

Other measures which were agreed at a meeting of Aberdeen City Council’s city growth and resources committee include investigating the possibility of council-owned land allowing permanent outdoor areas to promote café culture, developing detailed designs for a permanent new streetscape on Union Street between Market Street and Bridge Street, and allowing the temporary outdoor trading to continue until 24 January 2022 to help the hospitality industry.

The members also agreed to schedule the removal of Spaces for People Interventions from West End (Thistle Street, Chapel Street, and Rose Street) following removal works of previously-scheduled Spaces for People intervention removals.

All the proposed changes to the city centre area would be subject to consultation at appropriate times with stakeholders including public transport operators, residents, and traders.

The report to committee summarises a public consultation held recently and the top 10 priorities received as feedback included Union Street as the heart of the city, make outdoor café culture in the Belmont Street area permanent, focus on building maintenance and upkeep for Union Street, the beach as location for a new stadium, more trees, flowers and green spaces on Union Street, a pedestrianised central section of Union Street (Market Street to Bridge Street), improve connections from the beach to the city centre, remove street clutter on Union Street, make more of the Castlegate space, and improve connections from the city centre to the beach.

Aberdeen City Council city growth and resources convener Councillor Ryan Houghton said: “This is a bold and ambitious plan to help the city centre come back after the effects of Covid-19 has had on the retail and hospitality sectors.

“We thank the public and other stakeholders for their response to the consultation and we are aligning those requests as much as we can.

“We are looking forward to hearing the next stages of the plans at committee in November to help ensure Aberdeen is a vibrant place to live, work and visit.”

Aberdeen City Council City Centre Masterplan spokesperson Councillor Marie Boulton said: “It was encouraging having reviewed the projects from the 2015 CCMP that a large majority of the council-led projects have been delivered or about to be delivered.

"Culture is still at the heart of the CCMP and with the shift from retail in the city centre it is essential we continue to encourage events and culture to encourage footfall. The game changer for the city centre and the beach will be getting the connectivity right between and accessibility for all."

The report to committee said areas which would have changes would also include the West End, Castlegate, and Schoolhill/Upperkirkgate. The design work for the Castlegate would also take into consideration the Beach Masterplan linking the two areas together.

Committee members agreed a detailed traffic management plan should be developed to incorporate and take into account streetscape improvements to Union Street from Bridge Street to Market Street, bus priority measures including but not restricted to Bridge Street, Market Street and Guild Street and associated bus stop access strategy, disabled parking spaces, taxi ranks, and servicing needs of affected businesses including loading and unloading.

The committee agreed that George Street would have its own public engagement exercise to find out the priorities of visitors, residents, and traders in that area.

The councillors agreed updates on all the proposals should be given at the November city growth and resources committee.

The report to committee with more details on all the proposals is item 11.5 at Agenda for City Growth and Resources Committee on Wednesday, 25th August, 2021, 2.00 pm (aberdeencity.gov.uk).