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Aberdeen Market given green light as new council administration gets started

A proposed new £50m market planned for the Market Street to Bridge Street stretch of Union Street, Aberdeen. Supplied by the city council.
An artist's impression of the market development from Union Street.

The new Aberdeen Market, a centrepiece of the city council’s grand masterplan, has been granted planning permission.

Confirmation of the decision came mere hours after the new council met for the first time, although it was signed off by one of the local authority’s officers the day before.

The development, on the site of the former BHS on Union Street, will feature a number of food and drink outlets with cuisines from around the globe.

Permanent restaurants will be based there alongside temporary pop-up offerings, and a canopy-covered entrance on Union Street could be used for music events.

Councillor Alex McLellan, who became Aberdeen’s city growth and resources convener at the meeting earlier on Wednesday, said: “We look forward to seeing the market development come to fruition, as it will be a real asset for our city centre and it will provide a strong platform for small and start-up businesses.”

An artist’s impression of the new indoor market site from Market Street. The local authority has said such designs may change in coming months.

Confidential documents obtained by the P&J last summer revealed the project could cost almost £75 million – half the £150 million set aside by Aberdeen Council for its Covid recovery.

But Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in October that the UK Government would provide millions to support the market development as part of its levelling up fund.

Disappointment in demolition

Work to clear the site for the new centre began long before permission was granted, with the popular Herakut mural of a girl holding a lighthouse on the side of the old market building being knocked through earlier this year.

That demolition proved the most controversial aspect of the development in objections raised during the planning process.

Both the Aberdeen Civic Society and the north-east branch of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS) criticised the idea for its environmental impact.

The Civic Society described the demolition as “reckless in the context of current national carbon reduction targets”, while the AHSS said the council must be guided by “lessons from COP26”.

The AHSS objection continued: “Therefore rather than to squander the sound, very robust, and very large if ugly, carcass which the existing Market buildings present to us, we should use them as starting point.

“They cost us nothing, the expensive and ghastly business of demolition can be avoided, not to mention the effective doubling of environmental damage which destruction followed by new re-building would entail.”

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