Council may go back to drawing board on multi-million pound Aberdeen nursery plans – as site may have been quarry

Cllr Alex Nicoll at Cummings Park community centre.
Cllr Alex Nicoll at Cummings Park community centre.

A row has broken out after it emerged land earmarked for a nursery could have once been a quarry – potentially adding thousands to the cost of the project and delaying it.

Aberdeen City Council has been working on plans for a £2.4million nursery for the Northfield area since September 2017, and work is due to start in December.

But it has now emerged the land – between the Quarry Centre and Cummings Park Community Centre – may once have been a quarry, which would slow down the work and increase costs.

Officers appeared unaware of the history of the site when the issue was raised in council chambers this week, despite the surrounding streets having names such as Granitehill Road and Quarry Road.

They have now agreed to review the site and consider if alternatives are needed.

SNP councillor Alex Nicoll raised the issue at capital committee, and accused the council of failing to learn lessons from the Lochside Academy project, which was delayed after it emerged the land had once been a peat bog.

However, during the debate, Aberdeen Labour’s Yvonne Allan – who is originally from the Northfield area, insisted there had never been a quarry at the site.

The new nursery would help the council meet Scottish Government targets of providing 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare for eligible two-year-olds and all three and four-year-olds by 2020.

Under the plans, construction was due to start in December and finish in September 2020, but that timeline is now in doubt.

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Last night Mr Nicoll warned that if there was a former quarry in that part of Northfield then work building the nursery would be far harder with deeper foundations required.

Mr Nicoll, who lived in the area as a child, had studied documents and street layouts before coming to his conclusion about the history of the site.

He said: “Given the absolute shambles that engulfed Lochside Academy, when the administration decided to build a school on a peat bog, you would have thought they’d have learned their lesson.

“If it does transpire that the site isn’t suitable then that calls into question the administration’s ability to deliver the government’s early years commitment, despite being fully-funded to do so.

“Such a delay would be unforgivable – the Tories need to get their house in order and clarify the status of this site immediately.”

Finance boss Steve Whyte said officers would “take away” the information provided by Mr Nicoll and re-assess whether the site was still suitable, and potentially consider alternatives.

The council did not respond to requests for comment.