The first phase of multi-million-pound plans to breathe new life into Aberdeen’s waterfront has been voted through.
During crunch talks over the future of the city, councillors were shown the latest designs of how the beach could look like following the ambitious revamp.
An interactive video took the chamber on a journey through the envisioned play area, events field and amphitheater – which would be the first to be built.
And they were briefed on how the futuristic designs for the overhaul came from the creative imagination of hundreds of Aberdonian children.
About 1,600 youngsters were asked to share their own ideas through a range of workshops, and come up with models of what they want to see in a regenerated beachfront.
Some of the efforts, involving cardboard structures and rolls of sellotape, resembled a big Blue Peter project.
And their vision is now poised to become reality…
What’s included in phase one?
Council chiefs have approved the first phase of the beach masterplan, priced at £48 million.
This will include an amphitheater fit for about 400 spectators, an events field and a futuristic playground for children – called the Rope Factory.
Design images released earlier this month revealed two additional buildings – an information hub and a “gateway” entrance – will also be erected.
Papers outlining the first phase of the project put particular focus on making the revamped waterfront “easily accessible for people of all abilities”.
So one of the council’s first moves will be upgrading walkways and cycling lanes in the area to form a “pedestrian spine” between the different zones.
There are plans for two car parks, specifically designed for blue badge holders, as well.
How did children get involved in the beach masterplan?
All of the beach masterplan designs have been shaped by Aberdeen youngsters, who have been heavily involved in events and workshops over the last 18 months.
Planning officer Claire McArthur told councillors this is the first time Aberdeen City Council has embarked on such a large-scale consultation with young people.
Children from across the city were asked to share their honest feedback on the initial blueprints, and suggest their own ideas about how the beach should look like.
A group of six pupils, aged 10 to 15, even took a trip to Regensburg, Germany, to draw inspiration from the medieval Bavarian city, listed by Unesco World Heritage.
After visiting playgrounds and parks at the Bavarian city, their designs played an instrumental part in the final blueprints for the Rope Factory.
Ms McArthur added: “We’ve really managed to capture the hearts and minds of these young people.
“Because the beach is such a fantastic resort for all – not just for those in the immediate community – it has been important to engage with children across the city.
“We’ve taken significant engagement – which is more than what we would normally do for such projects. But given the scale of it, we thought it was important.”
What did the children say?
Youngsters mainly raised issues around overall safety at the beach front, and the lack of quiet spaces and good changing facilities.
They also called for better play equipment, suitable for children of all abilities, and for more picnic spaces.
Other points that emerged from their feedback included the need for:
- Adequate changing facilities in size and number
- Extended opening times to allow visits when quieter
- Wheelchair accessibility through paths and to play activities – but also seating and picnic benches and the beach
- Sensory play and water play
- Play equipment big enough for large children (and adults!)
During the meeting, coucillors also discussed the possibility of a new Dons stadium at the beachfront. You can read more about went on here.