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City Garden Project dealt final blow as Aberdeen moots £20m alternative

Resurrection for Diller Scofidio & Renfro £140 million Union Terrace Gardens overhaul is a ‘totally imaginary situation’ said a councilor

The high-profile City Garden Project was officially shelved last summer after Aberdeen City Council voted to divert funds from a tax increment financing levy towards other improvements in the city.

The local authority has now announced £300 million city-wide plans to improve schools, roads and cultural buildings. This includes a £20 million investment in pedestrianising the city centre.

A council spokesperson explained no architects had been appointed to work on the projects as details had yet to emerge.

Schemes will include ‘modernisation of Aberdeen Art Gallery and four other venues - Aberdeen Arts Centre, Aberdeen Music Hall, The Lemon Tree and the Cowdray Hall, along with a more modest upgrade of the gardens,’ he said.

The council’s former St Nicholas House headquarters could also be redeveloped by the private sector to include a new civic square. Four developers are currently shortlisted for the job.

He added: ‘Part-pedestrianisation of Aberdeen’s main shopping street, Union Street, is also proposed as part of the city centre regeneration plans.’

Diller Scofidio & Renfro’s competition-winning scheme to raise the level of the square superseded Brizac Gonzales’ earlier vision for an arts centre in the park. The arts centre scheme was abandoned when the council backed a design competition for Union Terrace Gardens.

Speaking to the Aberdeen Evening Press, Tory group leader Fraser Forsyth said the City Garden Project had become a ‘totally imaginary situation’ and was now in the land of ‘unicorns and tooth fairies’

He said: ‘There’s no point flogging a dead horse.’

The Scottish government has meanwhile indicated it would provide funding for regeneration which did not include theCity Garden Project.

In a letter to the Aberdeen City Gardens Trust, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon: ‘A revised business case without the City Gardens Project, a central component of the original plans, will not be considered at this time.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • If only the different factions in the city of Aberdeen (and Holyrood) could bury the hatchet and see their way to resurrecting the fine scheme by Brisac Gonzales, which would be an asset to all (and absolutely worthy of Sir Ian Wood's largesse)

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  • Councillors are in the land of unicorns and tooth fairies if they think that Union Street is still the main shopping street in Aberdeen.

    The primary East-West thoroughfare has been undermined over the past 25 years with the approval of large privately-owned enclosed shopping centres which has altered the retail axis to North-South and resultantly transmogrified the city centre experience. The city centre is now very fragmented and the idea of a new civic square (at St Nicholas House) which will have no meaningful physical relationship with the central core of the city to compensate and compromise for the UTG disaster is the white elephant in the room.

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