Plans to make George Street “bustling and vibrant” could include closing off more of the road to traffic.
Council chiefs have unveiled their near 100-page masterplan for the tired street, on the edge of Aberdeen city centre.
It promises George Street “has the potential to become an instantly recognisable streetscape from Spring Garden to the Bon Accord Centre”.
They have outlined six “transformational projects” for the beleaguered Aberdeen road:
- Improving and modernising the street
- Creating ‘Norco Place’, a mini-park outside the former John Lewis building
- Reimagining the Bon Accord Centre
- Making more of the area surrounding Nescol
- Improving lighting
- And exploring which areas could be redeveloped for homebuilding
The changing face of George Street
New images show the section of George Street between John Street and St Andrew Street could be closed off to cars, making way for a tree-lined bike lane.
Pavements would also be widened to make more room for commuters and space for George Street businesses to spill out of their premises.
Service vehicles would be granted access, but only at certain times of day.
It’s part of efforts to “redefine” George Street as a “comfortable and distinctive destination”.
George Street has been troubled with crime and falling trade in recent years – problems only worsened for surrounding businesses after the closure of John Lewis in 2021.
The John Street to St Andrew Street bike lanes section would tie in with the southern-most part of George Street outside the former department store at Norco House.
George Street masterplan: Norco Place and the former John Lewis building
The St Andrew Street to Loch Street strip already is closed off to traffic.
But the bare paved area outside what was John Lewis, and the building itself, is in line for a facelift too.
Last month we revealed a community bid to take on the ground floor of the building for a continental-style north-east produce market.
Norco House was recently purchased by a company owned by Zakir Issa, the brother of the billionaire brothers who own Asda.
Now, Aberdeen City Council has outlined its own vision for the brutalist block and its surroundings.
However, its future will lie outside of the local authority’s control.
Planners have suggested the demolition of only the 80s extension attached to Norco House, to allow more light into the building.
A new pocket park – named Norco Place – could be built near Berry Street to allow food and drink businesses hoped to set up shop in the empty John Lewis to take to the street.
The other option – less attractive due to the carbon emissions it would release – is to demolish the building and build new flats, restaurants and business space in mid rise blocks in its place.
St Andrew Street to Loch Street would be in line for a deep clean, shop fronts could be made consistent, with vast improvements to the lighting and CCTV.
Would an outdoor cinema bring crowds back to George Street?
Ideas for the Bon Accord Centre include living walls and recladding to lend the building a more modern look.
Aberdeen’s street art festival NuArt could be invited to bring more colour and culture to the inside of the mall, which is also owned by Norco House’s Mr Issa.
Improved lighting from the Norco Place idea could spill onto the shopping centre, perhaps with animated light shows or artwork.An outdoor cinema using its upwards expanse of bare wall is even being looked at.
Harriet Street’s planned revamp
Nearby Harriet Street – a main connector from the city centre north into the George Street area – is also in line for a facelift.
A net of lights will be strung above the reduced width carriageway, which would remain open to cars and cyclists.
The rejig would widen the pavement to make walking more comfortable on the eastern, Bon Accord Centre side of the road.
Meanwhile, the narrow footway on the other side would be lost.
On the other side of the George Street masterplan area – Gallowgate – a segregated bike lane would be built and the road is narrowed for motor traffic.
The protected cycleway would bolster active travel links into the city centre from the north.
More roads change on George Street between Spring Garden and John Street
Further north, between Spring Garden and John Street, George Street would be narrowed – and car access would be changed here too.
Planners think private motor traffic should be allowed to travel southbound only, with only buses permitted to drive north.
The shake-up would make more space for pedestrians.
Car parking spaces would jut into trees lining the grey street and parklets installed with tables to encourage people to spend time in the area.