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Council referendum to decide Union Terrace Gardens’ fate

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s controversial £140 million overhaul of Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen could be officially scrapped following a council vote on Wednesday

A report on whether to approve the scheme’s tax increment financing funding model will be debated voted on during an Aberdeen City Council meeting later this week.

In May, Aberdeen’s newly elected council announced it was planning a vote on whether to proceed with the high-profile City Garden project, even though the proposed overhaul of the Victorian park has already received public backing in a city-wide referendum.

Supported by the city’s previous SNP/Liberal Democrat council, the announcement left the controversial scheme hanging in the balance just one year after an international contest for the site won by New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro was launched.

Competition organiser Malcolm Reading said the proposed scheme was of ‘exceptional quality and promise’ and represented a ‘cultural  shift in city place-making that has the potential to change the way people will use Aberdeen for the better.’

He said: ‘I hope the decision made by the people of Aberdeen in an open vote early this year to see the project built will now be endorsed by the city authority - as it should be.’

Peter Wilson, director of The Wood Studio at the Forest Products Research Institute, Edinburgh Napier University, said: ‘The current Labour administration in Aberdeen was elected with a mandate to ditch the project and in normal circumstances this would probably take political precedence over a one-question referendum majority

‘But hey, this is Aberdeen and oligarchs rule, OK, so don’t cross your fingers for a no vote.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • 'Oligarchs rule' might seem excessively cynical, but hasn't this been true?

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  • It's all very well Malcolm Reading describing the proposals as being of "exceptional quality and promise" but the fact of the matter is it will cost the City £90million (£140m less the £50m 'donation' by Sir Ian Wood). The council simply does not have this money available to spend. We already have enough financial problems caused by living beyond our means, this would only serve to exacerbate those financial problems. Also, the city already has plenty of problems which require serious investment to solve. Plunging itself into this massive debt is not the way to solve these issues.

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