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Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens overhaul finally approved

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LDA Design has won planning permission for its £20 million transformation of Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, ending years of uncertainty about the project

Last week Aberdeen City Council’s planning development management committee approved the plans, which will restore the gardens, reinstating their ‘grand staircase’, and create an ‘informal’ amphitheatre alongside two new viewing platforms.

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

The permission means that a contractor can now be appointed, with work expected to start in the autumn and a completion date expected by summer 2020.

The changes 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.

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.  The latter’s £140 million makeover would have filled in the sunken Victorian gardens, raising them to street level.

Kirstin Taylor, LDA design project director, said the approval marked ‘a significant moment in Aberdeen’s history’.

She said: ‘We are eager to see our designs take shape over the coming months, building on the 19th century heritage and great charm and beauty of the Gardens to create a revitalised asset for the city.’

LDA submitted an amended planning application for the project in November after narrowly receiving outline planning a year ago.

Stallan Brand was recruited to work on the ‘architecture and conservation’ aspects of the updated proposals, following advice from Historic Environment Scotland and other stakeholders

Speaking after the decision to approve LDA’s revised designs, planning development management committee convener Marie Boulton said: ‘We need to bring this flagship City Centre Masterplan project to fruition as quickly as possible so that residents and visitors can fully enjoy Aberdeen’s special green heart. The regeneration of Union Terrace Gardens can drive the transformation of the whole city.’

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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