Plans for Aberdeen's new city centre revealed

Today, the wraps come off the initial plans for the transformation of Aberdeen City Centre. The proposal would create a new six-acre civic space as a focus for the city as it aims to keep its role as one of the world’s premier energy centres.

The plans are the 21st Century equivalent of the amazing foresight that – in the dying days of the 18th century – envisaged a grand new main street spanning the Denburn Valley on granite arches up to 40 feet and – in the early days of the 19th century – turned the vision into reality.

The 21st century plans are equally ambitious.

Union Terrace

The plans to build over Union Terrace Gardens and create a huge civic square at street level were first unveiled in the 1980s. They re-emerged as an unsuccessful Millennium proposal.

Now they have resurfaced again, thanks to the pledge from Sir Ian Wood, who has transformed his long-established family business, the Wood Group, in Aberdeen into a global player in the oil and gas industry. Sir Ian has pledged a personal contribution of £50 million to the project.

The balance that needs to be found to make the dream a reality is around £90 to £100 million.

Trying to find that sort of investment in the depth of a recession is difficult, but we must do all we can to ensure that it happens.

  • Union Terrace Gardens, sandwiched in the valley between the railway line and a dual-carriageway road, is not the asset for the city that it should be.
  • Because of the steps that have to be negotiated to get in and out, few people make use of this prime civic space.
  • The noise from the road and railway spoil the peacefulness of the haven.
  • Worse, the park is actually a physical barrier to pedestrian flow in the city centre.

Union Terrace can be the iconic development that helps to put Aberdeen on the map as a vibrant international energy city and – along with the Trump International Golf Links Scotland – a world city that is a ‘must visit’.
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