An Aberdeen council regeneration boss has said the authority is looking 150 years into the future as plans advance for a new “urban heart” for the Granite City.
Under the proposals, which come as part of the 25-year-city centre masterplan, a new quarter of shops, leisure and public space would be developed around Queens Street- with homes for retirees and young families among the key offerings.
With a £3.2 million partial pedestrianisation of Broad Street completed and work due to start on a massive redevelopment of Union Terrace Gardens, council bosses are now looking at the next piece of the masterplan jigsaw.
Talks with the police about relocating out of their Queen Street station, moving the city’s morgue and relocating the remaining Aberdeen University assets from Marischal College have all started, as have talks with the Scottish Courts Service.
The future of the 1970s era townhouse extension remains uncertain, with some sources saying the aim will be to ultimately demolish the A-listed building along with the police station.
Officials have previously costed the Queens Square intervention at £150 million but councillors on yesterday’s capital committee were told that costs and timescales were being finalised, with results expected after summer.
Masterplanning design and conservation team leader Sandy Beattie showed elected members a map showing a ring of listed and public sector buildings around the zone.
He said: “In the area we have a large number of listed buildings and we have a duty of care to our historic assets.
“Queen Street is surrounded by some of the most significant architectural heritage in our city.
“But in that core there is a public realm area that isn’t very well used and architectural interventions that leave a lot to be desired.
“We are now understanding what we need for Queens Street and looking at our future demand.
“I mentioned the heritage. We are looking at how we can adapt that and make sure it is fit for purpose for the next 150 years.”
The Queen Street progress is the latest sign of confidence and investment within Aberdeen city centre.
On Saturday, the P&J unveiled plans for renovating the Greyfriars kirk into a new bar and restaurant development – including a deep clean of the historic granite.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of city centre business body Aberdeen Inspired, said: “We are very pleased that further progress is being made as we look towards one of the next stages of delivery of the city centre masterplan.
“The vision for Queen Street is an exciting one and the council have already undertaken a huge amount of work and communication with other public sector partners in furtherance of this proposal.
“There is a real drive to push forward on more city centre living and creating the opportunity to see more people live and work in the city centre is all to the good.”
But last night opposition parties said more detail was needed.
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Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill said: “We said we would scrutinise each masterplan project as they came forward and, as with all these schemes, the devil will be in the detail.
“While we support more homes in the city centre, particularly affordable ones, it is clear that progressing this will need a lot of money and private sector involvement.”
SNP capital spokesman Alex Nicoll added: “I appreciate that the administration are really keen to be seen as ‘doing things’ but if they spent more time delivering existing projects on time and to budget rather than promoting others that have little to no detail, council finances might be in a little better shape.”