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Second image released shows ‘true scale of Marischal Square plans’

Protestors against Marischal Square release another image showing scale of development
Protestors against Marischal Square release another image showing scale of development

A new image has been released by campaigners against the Marischal Square development in Aberdeen in advance of another protest planned this weekend.

Opponents argue it shows the “true scale” of the £107million project for the site of the former council headquarters.

The group believe as many as 1,000 people could turn out on Saturday after a previous demonstration drew hundreds of angry residents onto the streets.

The Labour-led council administration has insisted that Marischal Square will provide much-needed hotel and office space in the city centre, while providing a potential boost to the public purse of £100million over 35 years.

The effort to block or force a rethink of the plans from Muse Developments has snowballed in recent weeks following the publication of 3D images that were released several months after planning permission was granted last October.

The latest impression issued shows the former St Nicholas House office block with the outline of the new multi-storey development that will take up the area around the 16th century Provost Skene’s House.

Campaigner Lorna McHattie, a former lecturer at the Robert Gordon University, said: “We think this shows people the true scale of the Muse Development.

“Before, although we had the 14-storey St Nicholas tower, the rest of the site was very low level. It was also further back from the road.

“What we have with the Muse plan is a development that is a lot more dense and is much closer to Marischal College.

“I think that the pavement side of Broad Street will be significantly smaller and what we think will happen is that this will increase the ‘wind tunnel’ effect.”

The issue regarding wind was raised during a public hearing that was held into the application in August last year.

Reference was made to the gusting winds that used to blow through the old St Nicholas House site, which included an open walkway around Provost Skene’s House.

Consulting engineers Rowan Williams Davies and Irwin (RWDI) carried out a detailed “pedestrian level wind micro-climate” assessment on behalf of Muse.

It found that the wind effect at the new development would be “generally calmer” than at St Nicholas House, although mitigation measures were recommended as levels in a number of areas of the site were still expected to exceed what is regarded as a “nuisance” for “most activities” including walking and sitting.

Council leader Jenny Laing used her budget speech last Thursday to re-affirm the administration’s commitment to the Marischal Square project. The Labour councillor said the development was “so important” because of a projected financial shortfall of £53million in the next five years.

She called on all citizens to “share” in the exciting opportunity to help shape the city centre for the future.

One senior administration councillor, Conservative Ross Thomson, has openly voiced opposition to the project, however.

Mrs Laing, along with finance convener Willie Young and planning convener Ramsay Milne, has been invited to speak to protestors outside Marischal College on Saturday.

Mrs McHattie said that so far, no response has been received from either of the elected members.

Mr Young, Labour group secretary, said members had not yet decided if they would attend.

Several opposition members attended the previous protest in January, as well as SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central Kevin Stewart, who has been a vocal opponent of the plan.

Mr Stewart has already asked the Scottish Government to call in the plans, but the request was turned down.

SNP group leader Callum McCaig argued, however, that there was still scope for the plans to be reconsidered.

He said: “Until it is built, it is not too late as far as I am concerned. There are no spades in the ground.

“I think the pressure that is being put by the public and the protestors on the administration is taking its toll and I think it is making some councillors bend a little bit.”

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