The expected cost of bringing buildings along Aberdeen’s famous Union Street up to scratch has finally been spelled out: an eye-watering £11 million.
Property consultants Savills have surveyed the once-illustrious Granite Mile, compiling a list of repairs needed to its historic commercial premises.
It could require dozens of businesses to replace their shop fronts, roof and window repairs and cleaning of granite facades.
But the drive to bring the sparkle back to the Granite Mile is seen as a key driver in getting people to take up vacant units.
Council chiefs are also looking at other uses for the gaping holes along the high street, moving beyond the retail focus previously.
To encourage the repairs, the local authority is looking to secure funding and offer a ‘one-stop’ service to make the necessary improvements.
An £11m bill to repair 134 Union Street buildings
Residential properties along Union Street were not included in the expert recommendations made to the local authority, meaning the huge bill relates to only 134 buildings.
Some of these are council-owned.
Along the length of the city’s main thoroughfare, 68 buildings were judged to be in good condition, work on 63 would bring “significant benefits” to the overall appearance of Union Street and three were found in “significant disrepair”.
However, even though some premises remain in good condition, owners might still be asked to consider reinstating ‘heritage’ shop fronts – if the council presses ahead with the work.
The team from Savills told the council: “Within these proposals we have proposed 84 shop front replacements.
“We have proposed replacement to a number of existing shop fronts that are not exhibiting signs of disrepair, however do not contribute to a consistent appearance on Union Street.”
Shop front replacement accounts for the biggest potential spend on the project, coming to nearly £4.9m.
Roof repairs top £2m while wall cleaning could come in at £1.25m.
Funding could be made available for the repairs, though the council’s experts are yet to confirm what work could be covered.
It might include the most pricey – and in some cases completely aesthetic – jobs, such as the shop front replacement.
How will the council tackle the Union Street problem?
Councillors are being advised, by the city’s top officials, to prioritise the pedestrianised Market Street to Bridge Street stretch in its repair work.
The short strip is key to plans for a new £50m market development, hoped to draw people back to the city centre.
Plans on how to make the improves to council-owned and privately owned Union Street buildings could be brought together by June, if councillors sign off on the work next week.
And by August, councillors could be asked to approve work to set up a one-stop shop for property owners to use to secure funding, required permissions and even the repair work itself.
Previously, council bosses have flexed their muscles on moving forward with the work, exploring the possibility of using compulsory purchase orders if owners don’t cooperate.
In the meantime, the council is working to address a lack of dropped kerbs on the Trinity Centre side of that central part of Union Street, after feedback from the Disability Equity Partnership.
Temporary accessibility ramps are to be installed to mirror where there are dropped kerbs on the opposite pavement.