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Most businesses ‘in favour’ of Union Street pedestrianisation

Adrian Watson claimed 'most businesses' favour pedestrianising Union Street.

The permanent pedestrianisation of part of Union Street is backed by a “majority” of businesses, according to the leader of Aberdeen Inspired.

Last week Aberdeen City Council unveiled ambitious proposals for the regeneration of the city centre.

Notably the plans included a permanent ban on vehicles on the stretch of the main thoroughfare between Market Street and Bridge Street.

It has only been open to cyclists and pedestrians for the last 18 months as part of measures to allow social distancing – but if councillors vote in favour, it would become a permanent feature.

The plans have divided opinion, with bus firms – whose busiest stops are on the stretch – among the most vocal opponents.

However, Adrian Watson, the chief executive of the business improvement district which represents around 800 city centre firms, claimed most companies back the proposals.

‘Majority support’ Union Street plan

“Our regular discussions and recent survey of levy payers revealed that there is overwhelming support for the creation of enhanced pedestrianisation measures on Union Street, with little desire to return to the pre-Covid layout,” he said.

“While a number of views were shared, the majority support the proposal to fully pedestrianise Union Street from the junction of Market Street to Bridge Street.

“The vast majority of businesses are also in favour of enhanced pedestrian space along the full length of Union Street.

“Our levy payers want to see an end to the Spaces for People measures as they are having an adverse effect on trading, especially around the west end of town. There is overwhelming support for retaining the pedestrian friendly zones in both the Belmont Street and Upperkirkgate areas and further develop the café culture, which we have long advocated for.”

Plans for the £150 million masterplan will go before the local authority’s city growth and resources committee on Friday.

As well as radical plans for Union Street and the surrounding area, it also includes proposals to revamp the beach with improved walking and cycling links, a refurbished Beach Ballroom and a new stadium for Aberdeen FC.

Praise for ‘vision and scale’ of masterplan

“The vision and scale of ambition within the city centre masterplan, along with the pace of its progress, are hugely welcomed and present clear opportunities to make permanent, creative changes that will benefit our city centre and its businesses,” Mr Watson added.

“Aberdeen Inspired is fully behind the principles of the masterplan and is committed to working with partners to drive economic recovery.

“We welcome the recommendations on future proposals in relation to George Street and the West End, as we look to see a strategic spread of improvements across the entire city centre.

“We are also delighted to see a focus on the beach area and the associated proposal for enhanced connectivity can only be good for the wider city centre.”

“These decisions will have a major impact on our city centre’s future prosperity and growth, and we await the outcome of the city growth committee with interest.”

Have your say: What do you think about the council’s plans to reinvent Aberdeen city centre?

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