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HOK's Scottish scheme looks set for the go-ahead following A+DS mauling

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The first scheme to be reviewed - and slated - by design watchdog Architecture and Design Scotland (A+DS) looks set to finally be given the go-ahead.

HOK's £150 million Bon Accord Quarter masterplan for the overhaul of Aberdeen's central shopping areas was heavily criticised when it appeared before the inaugural meeting of the A+DS design review panel in May last year.

However, following the initial mauling, the practice presented a revised scheme to the panel and carried out extensive consultation that has resulted in a number of changes. It is expected that HOK's new proposal will be approved when it appears before Aberdeen City Council on Thursday 21 September.

One of the key modifications to the original retail-led masterplan is the axing of a glazed 'umbrella' over St Nicholas Street.

According to Philip Wren, HOK's head of retail developments, the design process behind the revised Bon Accord redevelopment plans has been a learning experience for both the practice and A+DS, which came in for criticism about its handling of the reviews.

Wren, who wrote to A+DS chief executive Sebastian Tombs about the fairness and protocol of the review system after the first session, said: 'Our first review was also the first review of A+DS and I think they have learned a few lessons from ours and others' feedback.

'Certainly the second review was far more constructive. The panel was better prepared and briefed in terms of the situation and the objectives.'

If the masterplan is approved, Wren believes the first detailed applications could go in for planning early next year.

by Richard Waite

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