Review of City Centre Masterplan agreed to help revitalise the area due to impact of Covid-19

A review of the 25-year City Centre Masterplan which will help to revitalise Aberdeen due to the impact of Covid-19 was agreed today.

Aberdeen City Council’s city growth and resources committee approved the move which will consider a framework for economic recovery in the short, medium and long term, and a basis from which to monitor and consider the impact of structural changes that the pandemic has accelerated and the implications on the future of city centres.

This includes the loss of retail, the impact of homeworking and the effects, if any, on consumer and business confidence and behaviour. The review also presents an opportunity to re-evaluate the role of cultural assets in the city and their importance in supporting recovery in the tourism, leisure, and hospitality sectors.

Aberdeen City Council City Centre Masterplan spokesperson Councillor Marie Boulton said: “The review of the CCMP is welcome as it is vitally important for the recovery of the city from Covid-19 that not only the City Council does what it can, but partners, stakeholders and residents also understand they have a significant role to play.

“We all want our city centre to recover and continue to be somewhere where people want to spend their leisure time in shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs and we also have to plan for how the global pandemic has shaped the area.

“Furthermore, we are looking to how the city centre can be made more attractive to people for living in, and how all of these elements tie in with our fantastic cultural venues such as the Art Gallery and Music Hall.”

The City Centre Masterplan (CCMP), a regeneration blueprint which is transforming the city centre while conserving its proud heritage which was shaped following extensive public consultation and unanimously approved by Aberdeen City Council in June 2015, has eight objectives - changing perceptions, growing the city centre employment base, a metropolitan outlook, a living city for everyone, made in Aberdeen, revealing waterfronts, technologically advanced and environmentally responsible, and culturally distinctive.

In all, it has 50 projects ranging from delivering enhanced civic space to helping support exciting new events such as the Great Aberdeen Run.

The objectives of the CCMP review are to facilitate the city’s short-term economic recovery from the shock created by Covid-19 through the re-opening of existing CCMP projects and the acceleration of the completion of existing projects under construction and the continued exploration of how regulatory powers may be used differently to facilitate business investment in the city centre, to capitalise on the city’s new and developing tourism and cultural attractions and supporting exhibition and event programmes for 2021/22 such as the British Art Show, the Zandra Rhodes Exhibition, and the Tour of Britain, to build on existing mechanisms for engaging with the public and businesses on the short, medium and long term changes required within the city centre.

The work will include work plan which informs the review of the CCMP over the short (year 1), medium (years 2-4) and long term (year 5+). There will also be a review and evaluation of all existing powers available to the City Council in order to drive the return of footfall to the city centre and incentivise city centre living.

The City Growth service and the Communication and Marketing Manager are to use the CCMP Review to integrate further “smart city thinking” into ACC’s medium-term plans to develop and undertake engagement exercise with the public, all appropriate partners and stakeholders to seek their views on the City Centre Review, what it would take to attract them back to the city centre in the short-term, how the changed travel patterns and reductions in travel experienced throughout the pandemic can be embedded. The results would be reported to the City Growth & Resources committee in August 2021.

The committee also agreed officers should develop bids for potential submission to the following UK and Scottish Government programmes - Scottish Government Placed Based programme, UK Government Levelling Up Fund, UK Government Community Renewal Fund, Scottish Government Green Growth Accelerator Pathfinder, and UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The report said the CCMP review will consider the possibility, post pandemic, of a more fundamental change to how the Aberdeen City Centre operates in the future, be it in response to a seismic permanent rise in home-working and shift to on-line retail or changes to business and consumer confidence on how the public uses leisure time.

The report to committee can be viewed at 210511 CGR City Centre Masterplan Review.pdf (aberdeencity.gov.uk).