Aberdeen City Council has narrowly granted planning permission for LDA Design’s £20 million revamp of Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens
The latest proposals for the controversial scheme – unveiled by LDA Design in December– scraped through planning, with a vote of 21 in favour and 20 against. According to STV News, a debate over the project had to be cut short after a row broke out in the council chamber.
LDA Design was chosen for the job in September, four years after Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s contentious City Garden Project proposals were abandoned in 2012. The New York firm’s £140 million makeover would have filled in and raised to street level the sunken Victorian gardens.
DS+R 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 in support of the ambitious overhaul – 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.
The latest project will restore the gardens, reinstating its ‘grand staircase’, and create an ‘informal’ amphitheatre alongside two new viewing platforms.
The scheme features new lift access from Union Street into 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.
Following the public consultation, which runs until 9 December, detail plans will be drawn up and a report is expected to go to full council in March 2017.
Work is expected to be completed in 2019.
Kirstin Taylor, project director, LDA Design
Our aim is to make the gardens everyone’s favourite all-year-round destination. The proposals enhance what is there, keeping as many trees as possible and providing a rich new planting scheme.
Fine features such as the granite balustrading will be repaired, and the ‘grand staircase’ reinstated. We propose easier and more inviting access with new raised walks which allow for longer views and a gradual descent, and new disabled parking and lifts into the lower areas of the gardens.
We are proposing a beautiful lighting installation as a beacon, and new lighting for the monuments and viaduct and the arches to animate the upper terrace.
The gardens could be a lively cultural hub and our proposals include flexible spaces for events with an informal amphitheatre and new community garden space. New facilities and more activities will make them feel safer.
UTG Masterplan with Key