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Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens finally set for go-ahead

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Aberdeen City Council planners have recommended LDA Design’s £20 million revamp of Union Terrace Gardens for detailed planning approval

The project must face a vote of the council’s planning development management committee on Thursday (22 March) before any construction can commence.

In a report to committee members, planning officers suggested the scheme should be approved because its ‘design, scale, form and materials’ are all of high quality and support the emerging masterplan for Aberdeen city centre.

The recommendation comes a decade of indecision over the park, with schemes by Brisac Gonzales and Diller Scofidio + Renfro both failing to go ahead.

LDA submitted an amended planning application for the project in November after narrowly receiving outline planning one year ago. Stallan Brand was parachuted in to work on the ‘architecture and conservation’ aspects of the updated proposals, which included the realignment of the planned walkway linking Union Street to the gardens and reducing the potential impact on any future development of the nearby railway.

The original redevelopment plans were approved in principle in March, with a vote of 21 in favour and 20 against.

LDA Design was chosen for the job in September 2016, four years after Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s contentious City Garden Project proposals were abandoned in 2012. Its £140 million makeover would have filled in the sunken Victorian gardens, raising them to street level.

The New York practice won a high-profile international contest for the scheme, which replaced earlier competition-winning plans by Brisac Gonzales Architecture for an arts centre on the same site.

Despite a city-wide referendum that backed Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s ambitious overhaul – and was supported by a £50 million donation from oil entrepreneur Ian Wood – councillors voted in favour of a less expensive programme of city centre upgrades in 2012.

LDA’s project will restore the gardens, reinstating their ‘grand staircase’, and create an ‘informal’ amphitheatre alongside two new viewing platforms.

The scheme features new lift access from Union Street to the lower level of the gardens through a new entrance building, and similar access from Union Terrace to the upper levels, again through a new street-level building.

Project data 

Lead consultant LDA Design
Architecture/ Conservation Stallan Brand
Engineer Arup
Project manager Ryden Project Management
Planning and economics Ryden
Quantity surveyor McLeod and Aitken


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