Councillors have been asked to accelerate Aberdeen’s masterplan projects in an effort to turbo-charge the city’s economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year Aberdeen City Council approved £150 million of spending as part of a review of the city centre masterplan.
The plans include a major revamp of the area around the beach, as well as key city centre sites, including the Bon Accord shopping centre and Norco House, occupied by John Lewis, which announced its intention to close in March.
Now members of the local authority’s city growth and resources committee are being asked to approve the objectives of the revised plan and “accelerate” the restart of masterplan projects which are already underway.
Elite cycling event the Tour of Britain will visit Aberdeen in 2021.
Committee asked to ‘accelerate’ masterplan projects
Councillors will also be asked to move ahead with those projects which are due to begin in the coming months to assist the city’s recovery.
These include the development of a plan focusing on the beach and the surrounding area, the implementation of electric vehicle infrastructure and a review of which Spaces for People interventions should be retained in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A report to the committee by the council’s director of resources Steven Whyte reads: “Economic shocks tend to accelerate structural changes.
“The high street and retail pre-Covid-19 were continuing to adapt to the structural change brought about by online shopping.
“Pre-Covid, we witnessed the demise of BHS which occupied a prime site on Union/Market Street. The pandemic has exacerbated the pace and scale of the decline of high street retail, with recent closure announcements by Debenhams and John Lewis.”
Decision on long-term projects
The review of the masterplan will also see councillors decide on the long-term objectives for the document – including those more than five years in the future.
A “green recovery” is key for the future development of the city, according to Mr Whyte’s report, while increased use of open spaces such as parks and the beach is expected to continue.
Major works to revamp Union Terrace Gardens are already being carried out.
And the regeneration of the beach area could include improved active travel links, as well as a new stadium for Aberdeen FC.
Mr Whyte’s report adds: “Green and open spaces have been a haven for everyone during the lockdown whether that be the formal parks across the city, the coastal walks or within the neighbourhoods we live. And for many, these spaces have been discovered and enjoyed for the first time.
“Within the city centre, Union Terrace Gardens are a significant green and open space and their re-opening is very timely.
“We should also consider the other green and open spaces within the CCMP boundary and the impact of maximising these from any existing parking provision.
“The beach area has been the focus of leisure and active travel activity throughout lockdown, emphasising its importance to the city.
“We need to understand the future requirements in this area, again on a short, medium and long-term basis.”
Councillors will discuss the revised masterplan when the city growth and resources committee meets next Tuesday.