Covid-delayed landscaping work will likely keep the public out of the refurbished Union Terrace Gardens (UTG) for months into the New Year.
Town House chiefs have revealed hopes that all building and civil engineering work, being carried out as part of the £28.3 million overhaul of the Victorian park, should be finished by the end of 2021.
But – as they have hinted before – making the Aberdeen city centre gardens green again after years of construction activity will mean the project rolls into 2022.
UTG landscaping hit by Covid delays
Last spring’s lockdown halted work on the site for months, meaning the seasonal window of opportunity to put in plants and grass was missed.
Chief capital officer with the council, John Wilson said: “We are looking at the bulk of the actual structural works, civil works to be completed this calendar year.
“We will be in negotiation with the contract with regards to landscaping and the intention would be to make it available to the public as soon after that date.”
UTG will reopen only once the plants and grass have been allowed to bed in.
Councillors will next week be briefed on work to protect the heritage granite from the much-loved park, after stacks of masonry was left at an “unapproved location” on the edge of the city.
The multi-million-pound revamp includes new accessible routes into the gardens sloping down from street level, as well as a new grand staircase leading down from Rosemount Viaduct and repairs to the balustrades and arches along Union Terrace.
Events space, a playpark, refurbishment of the Victorian toilets and three new pavilions, which are close to being finished, are part of the project too.
More than 15 potential tenants vying for each of the new UTG pavilions
To be used as cultural spaces, cafes or restaurants, the new buildings are being glazed and having cladding fitted before potential tenants have them fitted out as they wish.
The council’s property agent FG Burnett, resources director Steve Whyte said he has been approached by around 15 would-be inhabitants.
A closing date for bids is yet to be set, though is expected to come “in the next month or so”.
The pavilions are not necessarily expected to be money spinners for council coffers, with bosses valuing a “rounded park experience” in their imminent decision too.
Speaking of the need to encourage people to flock to the city gardens, Mr Whyte added: “Financial aspects are not the main driver so it may well be that we have a rental offer which is maybe not quite working in tandem with the kind of events we would look to run in the garden.
“So it will be a more balanced view we are trying to take rather than purely financial.”
He previously told councillors that rents from the pavilions were not expected to pay off the cost of the park refit.
Committee convener Councillor Marie Boulton said: “It’s excellent to see work has been progressing despite the challenges which Covid-19 has put on the construction project.
“We look forward to seeing the finishing of the main works in the coming months and then the start of the planting next spring.”
The white hoardings surrounding the site are expected to stay up in the meantime.