Transformative regeneration of Aberdeen city centre, market, and beachfront given go-ahead by councillors
A once-in-a-generation exciting transformative regeneration of Aberdeen’s city centre, former market, and beach front was today (Fri 12 November) given the go-ahead at a council committee meeting.
The multi-million projects include the pedestrianisation of Union Street Central, the creation of a new city market, and the revitalisation of the beach area, with plans for a pier, new green hub, and a state-of-the-art sports area which could include a new stadium for Aberdeen FC.
The go-ahead for the plans was today hailed as ‘exciting’ and ‘transformative’ by the committee convener and Aberdeen City Council’s Leader.
Aberdeen City Council City Growth and Resources Committee Convener Councillor Ryan Houghton said: “Exciting changes are happening in Aberdeen and they are a hugely ambitious statement of intent.
“These multi-million-pound projects will create a more vibrant and people-friendly city centre with a fantastic new feature in the new Aberdeen Market as well as create an open and more accessible beachfront with new facilities.
“The plans will not only act to heal the city from the economic damage inflicted by COVID-19 by breathing new life into our city centre, boosting job creation, and promoting a wealth of opportunities to allow businesses and traders to thrive.”
Council Leader and Vice-Convener for City Growth and Resources Committee Councillor Jenny Laing said: “These projects are truly transformative for the city centre and the beach area and show the depth and breadth of our ambition.
“They will bring real, positive change for the people of Aberdeen, and we look forward to hearing the updates in the months to come. We have listened to the very businesses we are trying to help who have said we need to do these works to ensure these areas are attractive places to go to and spend time in.
“These plans are only the beginning of a process that we envisage will turn Aberdeen into a city that not only residents of the north-east but indeed the whole of Scotland will be proud of.”
The report to city growth and resources committee stressed that although the works are split into projects - city centre including Union Street and the West End, Aberdeen Market, Queen Street, the beach area, and combined city and beach areas – there are interdependencies of many of the work packages which will require them to be sequenced together.
The report to committee said there had been stakeholder engagement to date with regards accessible parking, cycle facilities, bus stops and routing, taxi ranks and servicing arrangements, and traffic management in the city centre and beach areas. The committee agreed engagement should continue with stakeholders across the city, including children and young people and the Disability Equity Partnership.
The report also noted local businesses took part in a stakeholder survey and the project team undertook several interviews with businesses face-to-face. Several organisations representing businesses in Aberdeen including Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association, Aberdeen-based McGinty’s Group, and international commercial property firm CBRE, have written letters of support for the plans.
For the city centre, the committee agreed to fully pedestrianise the central section of Union Street from Market Street to Bridge Street, except for cyclists and time limited servicing.
As part of these works, bus, taxi (and private hire) and cycle priority route is to be implemented on Bridge Street, Market Street, and Guild Street, Schoolhill/Upperkirkgate is required to be pedestrianised between Harriet Street and Flourmill Lane, and right turns prohibited except for buses, taxis (and private hire) and cycles from Union Terrace into Rosemount Viaduct.
The committee approved the detailed design principles for Union Street Central and they will proceed to the next stage of works including detailed design, stakeholder engagement, contractor engagement, and applications for statutory consents.
The committee agreed design works for public realm improvements from Aberdeen Market to Guild Street in association with ongoing design work for Aberdeen Market would be progressed.
It also agreed all Spaces for People measures in the city centre should be removed with the exception of Union Street central, the Belmont Street/Back Wynd area, and Schoolhill/Upperkirkgate, by the end of this month.
The committee also agreed the design development undertaken for the Belmont Street and Back Wynd area and which will now be developed into a full business case and operational model in consultation with local traders.
The committee approved the updated Outline Business Case for the new Aberdeen Market which will now be progressed with design development to include early contractor engagement.
The committee further approved the demolition and site clearance of the former Police Scotland Headquarters, 6-12 Shoe Lane and 5 West North Street, and provide a market analysis, a development appraisal and development brief, for the Queen Street area.
As part of the ongoing design work for the Beach Masterplan, the remaining beach Spaces for People intervention is to be considered for inclusion for any permanent scheme.
Several short-term items for the beach area are to be progressed to an outline business case, including a new amphitheatre, a new events field, new urban park areas, new sports areas, a pump track, landscaped mounding features, reconfiguration works/beach landscaping, interventions/upgrades along beach, and public realm works at Broadhill.
Medium-term items to be progressed towards the detailed design/planning consent stages include significant upgrades for the Beach Ballroom, a gateway building, a hub Building; a beach pavilion building, new canopy features, a new amphitheatre with canopy structure, a Beach Ballroom plaza, a secret garden, and structures on Broadhill.
Long-term items to be progressed to detailed design/public consultation/planning consent stages include a new AFC stadium; a new leisure facility, a boardwalk, and a new slipway. The committee agreed an outline business case for a joint facility with AFC that it considers a funding model that requires both the Council and Aberdeen Football Club to fund their share with no cross subsidy.
The city centre, new Aberdeen Market, and Queen Street projects are part of the City Centre Masterplan (CCMP), a regeneration blueprint which is transforming the city centre with 50 projects involving the public and private sectors while conserving its proud heritage.
Since it was approved in 2015, the CCMP has already delivered several achievements to date including completion of Provost Skene’s House, the completion of Aberdeen Art Gallery, the Music Hall, Marischal Square, and Broad Street. Over the coming months, the regeneration of Union Terrace Gardens will finish providing a wheelchair-accessible multi-function space in the city centre park including a playpark for the first time.
The full committee report is available at Combined City and Beach Covering Report - Covering Report.pdf (aberdeencity.gov.uk) for more information.