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Calls for ‘head to head’ battle in Aberdeen

London-based practice Brisac Gonzalez fears that a ‘one-sided’ public consultation for a new square could sink its plans for an Aberdeen arts centre

Practice director Edgar Gonzalez has hit out at Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future’s (Acsef) consultation process for a £140 million civic square in Union Terrace Gardens, which ignores Brisac Gonzalez’s already approved proposals (AJ 03.05.07).

Entrepreneur Ian Wood, together with Acsef, has asked Aberdeen-based Halliday Fraser Munro (HFM) to raise the valley floor of the gardens by building a square on elevated decking with development underneath.

The plan is at odds with Brisac Gonzalez’s design, which will embed its building in the gardens’ embankment. However, only HFM’s scheme has been officially shown to the public.

Gonzalez said: ‘The process is lopsided. They should have put both projects head to head to see which one people want.’

Acsef argued that the two projects are at different stages, and added: ‘We can only have a public consultation on our own proposal.’

But Elly Rothnie, campaign director at Brisac Gonzalez’s client Peacock Visual Arts, said: ‘You have to make it open and unbiased… If you omit things the public cannot make a full decision.’

Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, agreed the process was unfair: ‘People were asked if they want full decking or the status quo… A lot of people don’t want the status quo so they would go for the decking… There is no way to compare or contrast.’

Wood’s financial clout could also threaten Brisac Gonzalez’s scheme, which has only managed to secure 75 per cent of its funding.

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