As Dundee celebrates the grand opening of the long-awaited £80 million V&A, Aberdeen business chiefs have outlined how the Granite City and the wider north-east could evolve to rival the spectacular transformation of the Tayside waterfront.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of the city centre business development group Aberdeen Inspired, and Russell Borthwick, the chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, believe there are enough “headline projects worth shouting about” on the horizon to help future-proof the north-east’s cultural and economic offerings.
And city council leaders argue that with the millions of pounds being invested in the likes of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR), the new exhibition centre, the city centre masterplan, the Art Gallery and more, Aberdeen could very well give Dundee a run for its money.
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Mr Watson said: “The V&A is undoubtedly spectacular, but it’s important to remember just how much is going on in Aberdeen and the north-east right now.
“Dundee has done fantastically well, but we need to start properly shouting about all the good that’s going on up here.
“We’re looking at billions of pounds being invested in both the city centre and elsewhere in all manner of projects. There really is a lot to be positive about.
“We have the new exhibition centre under construction and we’re nearing the end of the massive infrastructure project that is the AWPR to take everyone efficiently in and out of our great city, while there is great potential in the new harbour and the cruises it will bring to the city.
“That’s not to mention the city region deal, Opportunity North East (ONE) and the city centre masterplan being delivered, along with our new and improved Art Gallery, Music Hall and Union Terrace Gardens, which will all do wonders for our city’s cultural capital.
“There’s just so much happening. We need to stop looking at the past and start really looking forwards to the future of what is Scotland’s third largest city.”
The expansive museum art and design at Dundee’s waterfront was drawn up by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who said he wanted to create a “living room for the city”.
It is expected to attract 500,000 visitors in its first year and will officially open to its first visitors this weekend.
Russell Borthwick, the chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce said: “The V&A is a tremendous project not just for Dundee, but also for raising Scotland’s profile with tourists around the globe, many of whom will build their visit to include enjoying the wide range of experiences we have in the north-east.
“The waterfront regeneration development was the catalyst for a wave of civic pride among Dundonians and the good news for the Aberdeen City region is that we too are investing heavily in delivering the infrastructure, regeneration and cultural activity to create a truly 21st century environment, right here, right now.
“Last year, we were looking at a pipeline of £9 billion of initiatives due to be realised over the next 10 or so years.
“It is a measure of the incredible progress and pace being demonstrated that more than £1.7 billion of that has now been completed with many more headline projects due for completion in 2019 and 2020.”
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said: “The V&A looks great and I personally can’t wait to visit it once it’s fully open.
“It just goes to show the wonders that can be done with huge cash injections from the Scottish Government.
“In terms of our capital spend here in Aberdeen, we’ve got a huge amount of investment taking place, we’ve got £333 million we’re putting in to the new exhibition centre, there’s £30 million going in to the Art Gallery, and more than £20 million to the Union Terrace Gardens.”