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LDA reworks Aberdeen Union Terrace Gardens scheme

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An amended planning application has been submitted for LDA Design’s £20 million revamp of Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen, which was narrowly granted planning permission earlier this year

It has also emerged that Stallan Brand has been brought in to work on the ’architecture and conservation’ aspects of the updated proposals which include 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.

The latest revisions alter the subsequent detailed planning application, which was submitted in April, and are intended to address concerns from Historic Scotland. These reworked plans are expected to go to the planning committee for full permission in February.   

Other amendments to the planning application include changes to the massing and design of the proposed buildings, to help protect the views and settings of the Robert Burns and Edward VII statues.

LDA Design director Kirstin Taylor said: ‘These amended plans get us even closer to capturing this and enhancing the existing heritage, enabling us to better balance traditional park enjoyment with new ideas and uses.

’We are working closely with all parties to make sure Union Terrace Gardens is a wonderful asset for Aberdeen for generations to come; a place where people belong.’

An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson said: ‘The detailed design has developed in response to feedback from officers and external bodies, which is not unusual for a significant planning application.

‘At the same time, it continues to honour the key design principles which were supported by the public and backed in principle by elected members.’

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 voted in favour 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 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 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.

A summary of the changes from LDA Design 

Building proposals are revised with the intent of mitigating effects on key heritage assets and their settings;

  • The Union Street pavilion has been moved from prior planning application position directly behind Edward IV and the belvedere on Union Street to a revised position away set back from the statue and belvedere. The newly proposed building thus retains the primacy of the Edward VII statue and the visual connection the Gardens and skyline beyond.
  •  The proposed building opposite the Burns Statue is set back from the existing statue and staircase to ensure the statue is visually separated when viewed obliquely along Union terrace.
  • The Rosemount Pavilion has altered to match the style and form of the revised Union Street and Burns Pavilions
  • Both the Ladies and Gents Victorian Lavatories remain retained and refurbished within the proposals.

Project data 

Lead Consultant LDA Design
Architecture/ Conservation Stallan Brand
Engineers Arup
Project Managers Ryden Project Management
Planning & Economics Ryden
Quantity surveyor McLeod and Aitken


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Readers' comments (1)

  • 'reducing the potential impact on any future development of the nearby railway' means what, I wonder - additional rail lines to cope with increasing traffic, or perhaps development over the railway?

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