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Revealed: New vision of permanently pedestrianised Union Street and city centre

A concept image of the permanently pedestrianised Union Street, outside the new Aberdeen market. Photo: LDA/Aberdeen City Council

Plans to permanently block cars and buses from the central stretch of Union Street could be passed through next week.

Decades in the making, calls to halt traffic between Market Street and Bridge Street will be heard by councillors on Friday.

It comes as planners redesign the heart of Aberdeen as part of a £150 million project to bring people back after Covid and to revitalise the city in a move away from oil and gas.

New images have been produced by LDA – the firm who designed the revamped Union Terrace Gardens and the Olympic Park in London.

Full business cases on road changes throughout the city centre – outside of the central stretch of Union Street – could be together by the end of next year, paving the way for the huge change.

Plans to permanently pedestrianise Union Street might finally be passed

Top council officials are recommending the option to fully pedestrianise Union Street be approved – with an exception for cyclists – along the same stretch currently closed as part of the coronavirus physical distancing changes.

Service vehicles would also be allowed into the pedestrianised zone but only during limited hours.

To make losing a stretch of the city’s main thoroughfare work, roads bosses are also pressing for an overhaul of Market Street, Bridge Street and Guild Street.

There, they want priority to be given to buses, taxis and private hires and bikes.

Schoolhill and Upperkirkgate could also be pedestrianised

Concept images released by LDA and Aberdeen City Council of how the pedestrianised Upperkirkgate might look.
Concept images released by LDA and Aberdeen City Council of how the pedestrianised Schoolhill might look.
Concept images released by LDA and Aberdeen City Council of how the pedestrianised Upperkirkgate might look.
Concept images released by LDA and Aberdeen City Council of how the pedestrianised Schoolhill might look.

Upperkirkgate and Schoolhill might also be pedestrianised, between Harriet Street and Flourmill Lane, while a ban on vehicles – except buses – turning right from Union Terrace into Rosemount Viaduct is also being recommended.

The refresh of the city centre masterplan includes a new £75m market on the former British Home Stores site, which was recently backed with £20m of UK Government funding.

Aberdeen beach is also in line for an overhaul – potentially including a new football stadium to replace Pittodrie, new sports facilities and a revamped Castlegate to improve the seafront’s links with the Granite Mile.

Houghton: Pedestrianised Union Street and city centre a “hugely ambitious statement”

Finance convener Ryan Houghton said: “These plans are a hugely ambitious statement of intent for Aberdeen.

“They will not only act to heal the city from the economic damage inflicted by Covid-19, but will also see us improve the health of our citizens by creating an open, accessible beachfront.

“The proposals will breathe new life into our city centre, boost job creation and promote a wealth of opportunities to allow businesses and traders to thrive.

“Above all, this new cityscape will bring the city back to the people, giving them easy access to a 21st century way of living that is open, inclusive and environmentally friendly.”

Proposals to permanently ban cars from the central stretch of the city’s main thoroughfare first emerged 35 years ago.

Angry bosses at the city’s two largest bus operators – Stagecoach Bluebird and First Aberdeen – recently penned an open letter to roads planners, demanding their access be reinstated to the stretch now set for permanent pedestrianisation.

Their seven busiest stops sit on the stretch.

Town House chiefs have noted public opinion on accessible parking, cycling facilities, bus stops and routing, taxi ranks and servicing arrangements and are promising more consultation on the concerns.

Vice-convener and council leader, Jenny Laing, said: “The council is proud to put forward this report detailing the potential £150m transformation of Aberdeen’s beach and city centre.

“The report, and the detailed projects outlined within it, show the depth and breadth of our ambition, and our commitment to bring real, positive change for the people of Aberdeen.”

Councillors will consider the plans at a meeting of the city growth committee on Friday.

Financial details, as the local authority considers entering contracts for various projects, will be discussed in private.

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