Plans for a new market in Aberdeen are to be submitted “as soon as possible” – while officials launch a search for someone to run the multi-million-pound development.
Councillors last night signed off on the next stage of bringing the proposals for the former British Home Stores site together.
It was confirmed, behind closed doors, that the seven-years-empty department store and nearby indoor market had been purchased by the local authority.
The deal includes the demolition of the buildings, as well as the bridge at 101 Union Street, which connects the two.
Hopes for the city’s Covid recovery have been tied to the market, along with a £150m investment in the city centre and beach area.
Now, an outline planning application is to be lodged as soon as it can be pulled together, while the council is to launch a marketing exercise to find an operator to run it.
City growth convener Councillor Ryan Houghton said: “It’s good to see progress on the Aberdeen Market and former BHS retail unit with the purchase of the site and now committee agreeing that it should be put to out to market to find an operator.
“It will help our hospitality and retail sectors which have suffered due to the restrictions caused by Covid-19 and is an exciting opportunity to breathe new life into our city centre.
“The new Aberdeen Market, combined with associated public realm works on Union Street and to the south, would bring transformational change to the heart of the city centre and we look forward to the next stages.”
SNP councillor Michael Hutchison said: “Since the future of the old market became uncertain, we’ve been raising concerns about what that could mean for start-up businesses.
“A market should help support small independent businesses to start up and step up. Unfortunately the closure of BHS made Aberdeen Market a less attractive destination before it ultimately closed its doors last year.
“While we have significant concerns about the costs of some proposals, we do now own the land and there is also a need for a market in this city.”
New Aberdeen market plans could use half of city masterplan millions
Earlier this week, we revealed the financial chiefs estimate the huge regeneration project – hoped to draw people back to the Granite Mile – could cost as much as £74.7 million.
That would amount to half of the funding put aside to pay for a refresh of the city centre masterplan, though grants – including a £20m grant from the UK Levelling Up fund – are being sought to reduce the burden.
Developing the central stretch of Union Street, which could be permanently pedestrianised alongside the project, would also allow better connections with The Green, the Merchant Quarter and the bus and railway stations.
So far, early design work for the overhaul of Union Street has already cost £50,000 – with full scale plans expected to cost 10 times that to put together.
Work linking Union Street to The Green, including improving public space and better signs to help visitors find their way around the city, is estimated to cost £1m.
The detailed proposals would include civils design, assessment of Union Bridge, landscape design and stakeholder engagement.
Office plans already approved for planned new Aberdeen market site
Councillors will next be updated on the new Aberdeen Market building in November.
Plans first emerged in May, when councillors agreed to buy the tired buildings to create what they described as a “destination venue” with international-style food and drink outlets.
It would include a market floor with space for fixed, temporary and pop-up stalls selling local and seasonal produce, as well as continental-style delicatessens, cafes and food outlets.
Officials are considering what else would complement the development, looking at what is missing from the city centre.
The council bought the buildings from developer First Endeavour earlier this year, after property investment firm Patrizia gave up on its plans for the site.
Aberdeen City Council had already approved their plans for an 11-storey office and flat development on the site of the disused indoor market, along with plans for the BHS store too.