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Arts centre under threat in Aberdeen

Brisac Gonzalez proposals not part of tycoon’s ‘vision’

The future of Brisac Gonzalez Architects’ Peacock Visual Arts Centre in Aberdeen is hanging in the balance after a Scottish tycoon pledged up to £50 million to develop the same site.

Ian Wood, chairman of energy-services company Wood Group, announced on Tuesday (11 November) that he would hand over the cash to redevelop city-centre park Union Terrace Gardens.

But, according to a source close to the arts centre, Wood’s involvement could ‘sound the death knell’ for the £13 million project, due to start on site early next year.

In a statement, the arts centre said: ‘Our funding package is time-limited and we must use it or lose it. A delay in proceeding with Peacock’s project will likely mean that we will lose our design team, architect and campaign team. There would be immediate redundancies at Peacock.

‘It is unlikely that the project could be revived should [Wood]’s feasibility study introduce further delays into the process.’

Brisac Gonzalez director Edgar Gonzalez said he hoped Wood’s plans would take his project into account, adding: ‘Apparently they will be considering a variety of options, so we will just have to wait and see.’

However, Wood will only hand over the full £50 million if his preferred option, which would see the park brought up to street level and a new public square developed, is carried forward. Any funding from Wood will have to be matched by the public purse.

Wood said: ‘I am only prepared to provide the £50 million for the ambitious, transformational Option 1... if Peacock achieve their funding and go ahead as is, my vision could not proceed.’

The scheme has been backed by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, who last week pushed through Donald Trump’s controversial Aberdeen golf resort.

Salmond said: ‘I look forward to seeing the outcome of the feasibility study. It strikes me that in these tough economic times there is all the more reason to think big for the future of the North East of Scotland.’

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