Has short-termism ended our ability to think ahead?

It was in 1957 that the then Scottish Secretary signed off the plan for the new bridge over the River Dee to replace the mediaeval Bridge of Dee and link to both the Ring Road (Anderson Drive) and also head west round Garthdee to the proposed Aberdeen by-pass.

This is an excellent example of planning ahead in an era when there weren’t even traffic lights at Holburn Junction, so light was the traffic. Or it would have been a good example of planning ahead, if it had happened.

1949 Granite City - A Plan for Aberdeen
A page from Granite City - A Plan for Aberdeen 1949, showing the then proposed by-pass routes

But it wasn’t just in the big picture that the planners of these days seemed to think ahead.

Travel up Garthdee Road to the Robert Gordon University and you will see that the ground is already prepared and flattened, ready for the second carriageway of the dual carriageway that would have linked to the by-pass.

You can see remnants of this foresight in various parts of Aberdeen. There is still the open ground on the corridor that was to take the Culter by-pass, leaving Queen’s Road at Rubislaw Park Road and heading west to the south of Craigiebuckler Terrace.

You can also see the wide open area where the by-pass was planned to run through the open ground in front of Hazlehead Academy, east of Groats Road.

For whatever reason, this sort of forward thinking doesn’t always seem to happen these days.

Recently I was at a meeting where a senior planner was speaking. One of the issues he mentioned was the A96 dual carriageway and the difficulties they faced at Inverurie.

From what he was saying, there is doubt if there is the ground to build the dual carriageway on the current A96 route, west of Inverurie. It seems that the housing developments crowding up on both sides of the road may force a completely new route for the A96 – presumably at a much greater cost. Should the need to dual not have been predicted and the corridor protected for it?

I have also been staggered that sites immediately adjoining the Haudagain roundabout have been offered on the property market when it seems obvious (well it does to me) that they would be almost essential to any major upgrade of the junction.

I am sure we can all cite similar examples and it leaves you wondering what happened to the foresight that went into books like Granite City - A Plan for Aberdeen in 1949.
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