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Multi-million pound revamp of Union Terrace Gardens expected to get underway next month

Monday August 12th 2019 at 11:41 AM

A ceremonial turf-cutting ceremony has taken place in Union Terrace Garden in Aberdeen today, ahead of multi-million pound works getting underway next month.

(L-R): Conservative Council Co-Leader Cllr Douglas Lumsden, Labour Council Co-Leader Cllr Jenny Laing and Council Culture and City Centre Masterplan spokesperson Cllr Marie Boulton.

The City Council leaders cut the first sod in the historic city centre park, with the £25.7 million revamp expected to start on Monday, September 9th.

The first phase will involve closing off a slip road to make way for one of three new pavilions and improving drainage in the Victorian Park, which first opened in 1879.

Council Co-Leader Councillor Douglas Lumsden said: “In transforming Union Terrace Gardens, we are making history in the heart of Aberdeen.

“This is an enormously exciting time for the city as we increase our cultural, heritage and tourism offer and enjoy all the economic benefits that brings.

“P&J Live has just opened, the redeveloped Aberdeen Art Gallery will follow in November, and with UTG we are about to embark a project that will further electrify the city centre.”

Balfour Beatty, one of the three firms responsible for delivering the Aberdeen bypass, has been chosen as the contractor, with the project expected to take between 18 and 21 months to complete – it was originally scheduled to be finished in autumn this year.

Fellow Council Co-Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “Union Terrace Gardens is among the city’s best loved places and it was vital we got this project right in every detail.

“That takes time – but it has been time well spent and we are about to be rewarded for the hours of extensive community consultation and diligent design work.

“The sympathetic regeneration of Union Terrace Gardens will ensure it remains a unique and enduring feature of our city centre, accessible for all to enjoy, and the start of work is another sign of the momentum building throughout Aberdeen during a period of incredible transformation.”

But leader of the opposition SNP group Stephen Flynn said on twitter: “The construction process was due to start here on the 6th of September…2017.

“Just the £9million over budget too. So far.”

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture and City Centre Masterplan spokesperson, said: “We are taking all that’s wonderful about Union Terrace Gardens – its setting, its greenery, its heritage – and enhancing that.

“The design is a direct response to how people wanted their city to evolve. That we are ready to start work is truly momentous, not just for this generation but in terms of legacy.

“The changes to the build environment in Aberdeen are dramatic – but it’s also bringing a real shift in the cultural outlook of residents and the outside view of the city, with visitors embracing all we have to offer and the plans we have for the future.”

The redevelopment, which was approved in March last year, is part of the local administration’s City Centre Masterplan, which also includes the revamp of the Art Gallery and the part-pedestrianisation of Broad Street.

Award-winning consultancy LDA Design, who were responsible for delivering London’s Olympic Plan, revealed their proposal for the park in 2016 and held a public consultation before being approved by Aberdeen City Council last year.

Design features of the project include:

  • New accessible walkway route into the gardens from Union Street;
  • Lift access from Union Terrace into the upper level of the gardens through a new entrance building on Union Terrace at the existing Burns Monument;
  • Improved disabled parking facilities on Union Terrace directly adjacent to the new accessible walkway routes into the gardens;
  • Pavilions on Union Street, Union Terrace and Rosemount Viaduct;
  • Landscaping and lighting, and the refurbishment of the Union Terrace arches;
  • Retaining the central lawn as a flexible space for large scale gathering and events;
  • A new entrance opposite His Majesty’s Theatre to accommodate smaller scale events;
  • Reinstating the ‘grand staircase’ as a central part of the new accessible route into the gardens from Rosemount Viaduct;
  • A net gain in trees.

On the 26th of this month a “stopping up” order will close the length of Union Terrace, the day after the Great Aberdeen Run, which uses the road for support services.

Prior to then engagement events will be held to ensure stakeholders, local businesses and the public have the opportunity to find out more about the programme.

Balfour Beatty will take possession of the site on Monday, 9th September, and anticipate a six-week period of site set-up and additional survey work.

The first phase of construction will include the addition of a permanent safety structure on Union Bridge.

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