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Work to remove Spaces For People roads changes in Aberdeen to begin in August

Spaces For People work in George Street and Rosemount Place are to be lifted when Aberdeen moves to level 0 Covid restrictions.
Spaces For People work in George Street, pictured, and Rosemount Place are to be lifted when Aberdeen moves to level 0 Covid restrictions.

Aberdeen traders have been shown the route out of their misery – but work to remove controversial physical distancing roadworks will not start until August.

Businesses in George Street, Torry and Rosemount had been hoping for a more immediate impact on the Spaces For People measures – but the removal is tied to the Scottish Government’s levels system.

Public health officials gave their blessing for the temporary bike lanes, one-way systems and pavement widening to be undone when Aberdeen is placed at Level 0 restrictions.

They were introduced to create more room for people on pavements, for queuing outside shops and to encourage more people to walk and ride bikes.

Rising cases delays removal of Aberdeen’s Spaces For People work

At the beginning of the week the possibility of a return to normality by next month was on the cards but – with rising case numbers – that has been pushed back.

Spaces For People road changes in Rosemount Place, Aberdeen, could be removed in August.
Spaces For People road changes in Rosemount Place, Aberdeen, could be removed in August.

On Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the next planned restriction easing would not take place on Monday, with so-called ‘Freedom Day’ to July 19 due to a 40% rise in cases in a week.

And Aberdeen City Council is to wait three weeks after that date before it will begin the arduous and costly task of removing miles of white lines, cones and bollards – meaning it will be well into August before change can be expected.

Officials estimate it will take 13 weeks in all.

Council transport spokeswoman Sandra Macdonald said: “Having served their purpose, it is time to pack away the striped bollards, temporary signage, water-filled barriers and pavement extensions.

Council transport spokeswoman Sandra Macdonald in the stretch of Union Street, Aberdeen, pedestrianised as part of the £1.76m Spaces For People work.
Council transport spokeswoman Sandra Macdonald in the stretch of Union Street, Aberdeen, pedestrianised as part of the £1.76m Spaces For People work.

“Residents and businesses have had to adapt, and to adapt again, over the past year and it will be some months before all the works to re-establish the affected streets and pavements are complete.

“Those elements of the Spaces for People measures which gained public support can then be revisited to ensure better sustainable transport initiatives are designed and delivered to make travel to, and in and around, Aberdeen safer, healthier and more climate friendly.”

Decision yet to be made on Union Street Spaces For People pedestrianisation

The pedestrianisation of Union Street between Market Street and Broad Street, as well as Schoolhill, Upperkirkgate and the Belmont Street area, remains in place.

These were the first measures introduced as part of the government-funded £1.76m Spaces For People scheme.

But councillors will consider the future of those temporary interventions alongside the refreshed city centre masterplan – including a new market on the site of the former BHS building – in August.

Permanent pedestrianisation of the same stretch of the Granite Mile is one of the options being explored as part of the £150m revamp of the city centre and the beach coming out of the pandemic.

Freedom of information requests by this newspaper uncovered the £420,000 pot of cash Aberdeen City Council has put aside to fund the removal of the Spaces For People work.

City growth and resources convener Ryan Houghton described the milestone as “fantastic”, adding: “It has been a difficult time for many people and it is thanks to the public for continuing to stick with the physical distancing, mask-wearing, lockdowns, vaccinations, and all the other measures to combat Covid-19 that we’re in this position.”

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