The former north-east police headquarters could yet be saved from the wrecking ball as part of an urban park in Queen Street.
Aberdeen City Council has already spent £6 million amassing land in the area, with a view to a developing a new cultural and residential quarter.
But the SNP instead promised an urban park – like the Mayfield project in Manchester – before they took joint control of the local authority last May.
Now, they and their Lib Dem administration partners have tasked city planners with drawing up detailed designs for the multi-million-pound idea.
Council masterplan manager Sandy Beattie, who briefed councillors on Monday, said there would be a “strong focus” on making the park “distinctive”.
“[This would] take advantage of the specific enclosed setting of Queen Street, connected to the wider city centre projects such as Marischal Square, Broad Street, Union Street and the Castlegate.”
Active travel links between the beach and the city centre could also benefit, he said.
How much could the Queen Street urban park cost?
All-in, the project is expected to cost £61m.
But council chiefs expect the city to only pay another £8m of that. The remaining £43m would be put up by a developer looking to take on the police tower.
It could result in a new 5,200 sq m park, alongside a commercial or residential development, in the city centre by June 2026.
Officials are also to test the market to see if the empty police building, bought in 2022, can be reused rather than demolished.
Why leave the former Queen Street police station standing?
Police sold the former Grampian HQ 18 months ago, moving to nearby Marischal College.
New planning regulations which came into force list demolition as the “least preferred option”.
And that means city officials will have to look for viable ways to reuse the building, as well as demolition.
Those include commercial premises but there was widespread support for the tower to be used for homes too.
Previously, The P&J has reported on calls to keep the former police station intact over concerns for the environment.
Consultation will be held on the future of the site.
Groups including children and city centre cultural organisations, as well as would-be development partners, will be approached.
Testing market appetite to take on the site is expected to begin by the end of this month.
Councillors will expect to be updated on work to decide whether to leave the former police station standing in December.
Developing the full Queen Street site, selling off a section or making the entire are a park are all options that could yet be put back to councillors once the waters have been tested.
In the meantime, work to strip out the former police station, and remove internal fixtures and fittings as well as asbestos will begin.
Council bosses have not ruled out spending more money on the former police station in order to make it a more attractive prospect for a developer.
Labour led calls to just sell off the land without building the park.
Many of the Queen Street sites were bought when they and the Conservatives ran the Town House.
But they were defeated by the SNP and Lib Dem administration, which was also supported by independent Marie Boulton.
What do you want to see happen to Queen Street? Let us know in our comments section below
After the meeting, council city centre spokesman Michael Hutchison, of the SNP, said: “I am delighted that we have taken the next step towards creating an urban park in Queen Street. It will improve both the quality and the amount of green space in our city centre.
“This is an opportunity to improve active travel routes, better link up our city centre, and make this part of our city a bit greener.”
Lib Dem council co-leader Ian Yuill, said: “The park at Queen Street will be the first completely new park in Aberdeen in many years.
“This new green space in our city centre will play a key part in the transformation of the city centre and beach areas.”
- You can read more of Mr Hutchison outlining the SNP’s vision for Queen Street here.
- Calls to halt plans to demolish the former Shell headquarters in Tullos centre around the same environmental concerns which might save the disused police station.
- And you can read more about how city chiefs hope to “rebuild” the Aberdeen roads network – in favour of bikes and buses – by 2030 here.