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Lift-off for spaceship-like ‘play factory’ at Aberdeen Beach as first stage of huge revamp officially approved

Work is now clear to begin in the months ahead.

Design image of Aberdeen beach playpark
Aberdeen City Council has revealed their vision to revitalize the beachfront and create an "exceptional" asset for the city. Image: Aberdeen City Council.

Plans for a futuristic playpark, events space and ampitheatre at Aberdeen Beach have been sealed – despite unrest about the traffic changes they will bring.

The proposals are part of a multi-million-pound masterplan to rejuvenate the seafront.

It’s a mammoth scheme that will be rolled out over many years.

And now a trio of projects, which together comprise the first phase of the major project and cost £48 million, have all been given the stamp of approval.

That means that some work has now been cleared to get under way within months.

What parts of Aberdeen beach masterplan have been approved?

Local authority planning chiefs have paved the way for work to start on:

  • A new canopy, amphitheatre and car park next to the Beach Ballroom
  • Extra disabled parking spaces
  • A gateway and “hub” buildings, along with a “rope factory” playground

What will the new canopy be like?

The new amphitheatre will be created on the “undeveloped” grassy area just off Links Road and the Esplanade.

There is currently a playpark there, along with mothballed public toilets.

The canopy would feature a lobby, toilets and an attendant’s office. Image: Aberdeen City Council/Keppie Design

It comes after we revealed that police had concerns about youths turning the new playground into something of a hooligan hotspot.

Officers warned that the 10ft structures could prove tempting to thrill-seeking troublemakers.

There are some big changes in store. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

And in coming to their decision, planning chiefs say project leaders should liaise with police to “design out crime”.

However, no specific mention is made of how to stop youngsters clambering onto the canopy.

The new events park will be able to host large-scale outdoor concerts, festivals and more.

Walkways and cycling lanes will also be upgraded to form a “pedestrian spine” between the different zones.

What about the futuristic playpark?

Eye-catching images of the “rope factory” play area caught the imagination of Aberdonians when they were unveiled this summer.

Aberdeen beach masterplan.
What Aberdeen beach could look like in the future as part of the masterplan. Image: Aberdeen City Council.

It will boast four separate elements, each linked by a bridge.

The jaw-dropping tower would contain nine floors, with “rubberised play flooring”, and stainless steel chutes wrapping around it.

It will reach almost 80ft tall.

Rubber-stamping the project, planning chiefs said it would rejuvenate the dowdy greenspace which currently has “relatively low use”.

Were there any complaints?

The vision for the area was signed off by councillors in September, but still needed to make its way through the formal planning process.

Since they were lodged, flooding, roads and disability experts have all had their say – along with members of the public.

And some residents voiced concerns about what they could mean for traffic.

Traffic will be diverted along Links Road in February, missing out the most eastern stretch of Aberdeen's Beach Boulevard. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
Traffic will be diverted along Links Road (foreground) in February, missing out the most eastern stretch of Aberdeen’s Beach Boulevard. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

‘Does the road magically disappear?’

James Anderson, of Westfield Terrace, was worried about the loss of a chunk Beach Boulevard.

He said: “The proposals appear to encroach on the existing dual carriageway. There is absolutely no indication as to what happens there?

“Does the road magically disappear?”

The area shaded in green is the first phase, with the other components to follow in stages. Image: Aberdeen City Council

Stonehaven mum ‘would drive to Dundee instead’

Claire Penman lives in Stonehaven and wondered how she would be able to reach the beach.

She said she was “fully in support of improvements to Aberdeen Beach”.

How the new playpark will look. Image: Aberdeen City Council

But the mum added: “I am not supportive of reducing through traffic. This needs to be reviewed as this is an essential need.

“Where will we park?

“The current beach users are so varied that you cannot possibly move all to non-car based travel mode.”

Aberdeen Beach is a popular visitor destination. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

She added: “This is not fair to those who choose to travel by car. Currently it is too expensive to use the train as a family of four and the bus takes too long.

“I wouldn’t want my child having to walk in dark streets in an evening when previously I could pick them up.

“It’s just not practical and I would drive to Dundee instead.”

But there were fewer than six objectors to the plans, so city planners were able to approve them without councillor input.

Here is how the events area, amphitheatre and playpark could look in the future. Image: Aberdeen City Council

Why was first stage of Aberdeen beach masterplan approved?

Planning officer Gavin Clark waved away concerns about the road closures as he passed the stage one proposals.

He said Aberdeen Beach is an “easily accessible location”, with extra cycle space to be formed as part of the masterplan.

And bus stops will be upgraded too.

Mr Clark added: “Wider public transport upgrades and changes are being investigated as part of the wider beachfront project.”

Are you excited to see the new look Aberdeen Beach take shape? Let us know in our comments section below

What happens next?

The eastern stretch of the Beach Boulevard, between Links Road and the Esplanade, is set to close in the months ahead as work gets under way.

The permanent future of the route from the city centre, through the Justice Street roundabout and down the Boulevard to the seafront will be decided in 2024.

The area around the Beach Ballroom would become something of a plaza. Image: Aberdeen City Council

Meanwhile, Aberdeen FC fans are growing more optimistic that a replacement for Pittodrie could ultimately feature in the beach masterplan.

Last week, we exclusively revealed that Dons bosses had met with Aberdeen City Council’s co-leaders about a possible stadium at the beach.

Click on these links to see the car park, amphitheatre and playpark plans.