A multi-million-pound project to create a civic quarter in Aberdeen has moved forward after plans to “dispose” of the city’s police headquarters was approved.
The city council wants to transform Queen Street into a civic quarter – celebrating the culture and heritage of the area, while creating new retail and residential opportunities.
Former clothes shop McKay has already been taken over for the £150million project, and now it has been formally agreed that Police Scotland’s headquarters will be cleared to make way for the scheme.
At a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority board this week, it was agreed the outdated building – which was built in the early 1970s when Grampian Police first formed – should be disposed of.
Next year, staff will be relocated to offices in Marischal College and Woodhill House, co-locating with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils, and other existing police buildings in the city.
Assistant Chief Constable John Hawkins said working in such close proximity to other authorities would strengthen existing relationships.
“Co-locating with partners gives Police Scotland the opportunity to collaborate more closely to address the needs of our local communities,” he said.
“This decision marks an exciting time for not only the north-east but also for Police Scotland as a whole.
“As an organisation, we are committed to providing traditional, visible and accessible policing but we recognise the demands on policing, and the public expectation of policing in Scotland has evolved over time and will continue to evolve.
“This includes how the public contact us and engage with us.
“When the Queen Street office opened 45 years ago, it was very much state-of-the-art and has served both Grampian Police and Police Scotland extremely well over the decades.
“However a building of this age does have its limitations and high costs in keeping it maintained.”
Chief Superintendent George MacDonald, divisional commander, added: “Queen Street has been an iconic building in the city centre for 45 years and thousands of officers and staff, including myself, have enjoyed our time working there, however, this approval signals the start of an exciting change for policing in the north-east.
“Having staff and officers based at both within Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council’s headquarters will provide greater scope for working more efficiently with our local authority partners, and allow us to build on the existing strong links we have developed over the years.
“Providing a high standard of service is at the heart of operational policing. Our city centre officers and public counter services will be among those teams based at Marischal College and so the public can be reassured that they will continue to receive the same level of service they have experienced at Queen Street.”
Both councils welcomed the decision and echoed that the move would allow partnerships to develop to best protect and serve local communities.
Opposition councillor Martin Greig, former convener of the Grampian Joint Police Board, said it was “long overdue”.
Work on the civic quarter is not expected to be finished until 2026.
The proposals, which are part of the 25-year city centre masterplan, include new shops, leisure and public space.
Around 300 homes for retirees and young families are included – with bringing more people back into the city centre to live a key element of the masterplan.
The future of the 1970s era townhouse extension is still under consideration, while plans are being drafted for a new mortuary on NHS Grampian land at Foresterhill, which will replace the facility currently on Poultry Market Lane, which adjoins Queen Street.
Members of the city growth and resources committee will be given an update on the project project on October 28.