A huge redesign of Aberdeen city centre will cost more than £100 million – without counting the price of the new market.
Planned work in the central section of Union Street is already down on the council ledger for £20m.
Already closed off to general traffic, the road along Market Street to Bridge Street will be narrowed to widen pavements.
And it will include a segregated bike lane down to north side of the street, weaving around islands for passengers to board buses.
The 17-month work is expected to begin this spring.
Now, council road planners have totaled up estimates for their other ideas for Aberdeen city centre, which they promise could be worth more than £500m to the local economy.
The streetscape project includes the east and west ends of Union Street, the surrounding West End roads, the historic streets around the Green and the Merchant Quarter, as well as the Castlegate.
And, finally priced in December 2023, it will all add up to a bill of £97.25m.
The local authority would spend another £1m in staffing the vast regeneration project, which would cost another £3m over the next 30 years to maintain.
But what’s planned, where?
Union Street East and Castlegate
Union Street East: £19.9m
Work hoped to begin in October 2026 and finish in January 2028
East of the bus gate at the top of Market Street, Union Street is planned to have a lane of traffic in each direction and wider pavements.
The bike lane planned for the central stretch is being designed to run the length of the Granite Mile.
So, it’s proposed the segregated cycling space will be on the north side of the road, all the way across the historic granite setts of the Castlegate.
The bike lane will have to cross Castle Street as it bends into King Street, with a raised pedestrian crossing planned to slow traffic down.
There’s also an “indicative” bus lane incorporated in the sketches, after councillors “violently agreed” that public transport should cross the Castlegate as a gateway to the beach.
Union Street West and Aberdeen’s West End
Union Street West: £41.2m
West End: £12.1m
Work hoped to begin in February 2028 and finish in November 2029
Stretching from Bridge Street and Union Terrace up to Holburn Junction, the western stretch of Union Street is in for a similar revamp.
Again, there’s a segregated bike lane planned for the north side of the road, and wider pavements.
The rejig will also make more space for bus shelters and potential street-trading, planners state.
Work might also include a “rationalised carriageway and junctions” in the West End, which the council uses to describe western Thistle Street and the southern parts of Rose Street and Chapel Street.
In exchange of a smaller road real estate, there are plans for improved crossings and space for pedestrians, seating, and small “parkettes”.
Streets around the new Aberdeen market
Market streetscape phase 2: £7.4m
Market streetscape phase 3: £3.2m
Hoped to begin in November 2029 and finish in July 2030
Work on streets around the new Aberdeen market has already been approved in part.
An overhaul of the east part of the Green, Hadden Street, Carmelite Street and a pedestrian crossing across Guild Street is already on the council’s slate.
Building Aberdeen’s “welcome mat” for rail and bus passengers arriving at Union Square is expected to begin in spring 2025. It is expected to take six months.
After that, work on the next phase of “market streetscaping” will begin in Correction Wynd, Carnegie’s Brae, St Nicholas Street, St Nicholas Lane, Trinity Street, Netherkirkgate, Carmelite
Lane and The Green.
That could include two new bike routes through the Merchant Quarter – the first a “back road” route through newly-smoothed surfaces in the cobbled areas.
What will the £98m NOT pay for?
Despite the redesign of the old streets surrounding the Aberdeen market, the construction of the landmark new building is not included in this bill.
It is estimated to cost £40m alone while the revamp of central Union Street out front will cost another £20m.
Work is this weekend beginning on ground samples ahead of construction starting on the Market Street to Bridge Street stretch.
However, the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund has contributed £20m towards that combined cost.
The £98m also doesn’t cover the price reworking Upperkirkgate and Schoolhill, which is on hold until Union Street Central is completed.
Other tabs to be settled on their own include the George Street mini-masterplan and what were once £150m plans to redevelop Queen Street.
A potential £12m redesign of the Justice Street roundabout at the top of the Beach Boulevard and the multi-million-pound regeneration of Aberdeen beach are also not part of this tab.
What will all this spending do for Aberdeen city centre?
The council has looked at its city centre spending as a whole – including the work priced up at £98m and the existing projects.
Their modeling includes 10% contingencies in the project estimates, after the city was burned by construction inflation in recent big-money projects such as Union Terrace Gardens.
City chiefs took forecasts on footfall, active travel use and the all-in £202m construction spending into account.
And they reckon it could be worth an extra £565m to the Aberdeen economy over 30 years.
Councillors will next week be asked to agree the vast works.
If approved, the scheme would then be referred to the capital budget setting process in March.
Aberdeen city centre road works to be sequenced to minimise disruption
Should the proposals be backed by councillors, they are being warned to keep an eye on the budgets.
In his report on the plans, resources director Steve Whyte wrote: “It should be noted that all project budgets are estimated at this stage and based on 2023 figures.
“These figures will therefore remain indicative until commercial close of each
“All the above will be subject to future budget approvals, potential grant assistance and completion of existing capital projects in the city centre.
He advocated for the work to be sequenced after the Union Street Central work to best “manage disruption”.