Union Street improvement work under way

A five-year building improvement programme for historic properties on Aberdeen’s Union Street has delivered its first project – with the promise of more to come. 

Grants for restoration and enhancement work are available through a £2.4 million Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS), jointly funded by Aberdeen City Council and Historic Environment Scotland (HES). 

The £16,260 (grant award of £12,195) shop frontage refurbishment at 166 Union Street included the addition of a traditional fascia, console brackets and stall-risers, all of timber construction, and a centre recessed doorway with a granite threshold. 

The empty shop unit – formerly a jeweller’s – is now a restaurant. 

Councillor Marie Boulton, the Council’s lead on the city centre, said: “Union Street CARS marks the next step in transforming Aberdeen’s main thoroughfare under the City Centre Masterplan. 

“A number of grant applications for work ranging from window replacements to roof repairs to the reinstatement of traditional architectural features are being processed. 

“We are confident that as the benefits become obvious, more owners will come forward for funding support. 

“The scheme has the potential to safeguard and enhance important historic buildings and stimulate the economy by encouraging occupancy of vacant units.” 

HES Grants Manager, Steven Scott, said: “The completion of this project within the Union Street Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme has converted a highly visible and vacant property into an attractive shopfront that reflects the historical nature of Aberdeen. 

“Properly maintained traditional shopfronts will enhance the area, boost business for traders and encourage visitors to spend more time in the city. 

“We congratulate Aberdeen City Council on this recent success and look forward to seeing further rejuvenation of the conservation area.” 

Aberdeen Inspired, the banner under which the Business Improvement District operates, has provided £50,000 for Union Street CARS. 

Aberdeen Inspired chief executive Adrian Watson said: “It is brilliant to see CARS becoming a reality through positive engagement, partnership working and commitment from business owners. 

“We’re hoping more businesses will recognise the benefits of this fantastic scheme and embrace the role they have to play in helping transform Union Street as part of the wider City Centre Masterplan." 

Grants, which are subject to eligibility criteria, can cover up to 60% of repairs and 75% of shopfront improvement costs, with owners expected to meet the rest. Conditions include a commitment to future maintenance. 

It has been estimated that CARS Union Street could result in a total investment of around £3.6 million if there was a full uptake of funding. 

Union Street CARS is overseen by a Project Board comprising Aberdeen City Councillors, representatives of the Council’s Planning and Sustainable Development Service, Aberdeen City Heritage Trust, Aberdeen Inspired, and the City Centre Community Council. 

A Union Street CARS Officer, appointed by the Council, manages the scheme. 

* Anyone interested in applying for a CARS grant should phone Project Officer Jamie McNamara on 01224 523958 or 07919 691540, or email jmcnamara@aberdeencity.gov.uk.