An ambitious project to “enliven and improve” some of Aberdeen’s most iconic streets with illuminated signs has been given the green light.
A dozen suspended signs, which can be lit up, will be hung at either end of Shiprow, Belmont Street, Stirling Street, Back Wynd Steps, Windmill Brae, both ends of Langstane Place, Chapel Street, Crown Street, Carmelite Street and George Street.
Aberdeen Inspired applied for permission for the £400,000 scheme last month and now the city council has approved it.
The project is among a series of city centre improvements made possible after the local authority was given £1.3 million from the Scottish Government.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired said “The Advertisement Consent Application approval marks a real step forward for the suspended signage project.
“Aberdeen Inspired has shown its commitment to supporting our city centre for many years and we were delighted to have been able to secure this funding for the city to deliver this and other important projects.
“We are all aware of the impact of Covid-19 on our lives, businesses and city centres so it’s now more important than ever that we push forward with innovative and beneficial projects like this that deliver meaningful improvements by enhancing streetscape whilst also making Aberdeen safer and more welcoming to visitors and locals.
“This £400,000 investment will see new suspended signs delivered at twelve locations in the city centre, enhancing the streetscape and providing fresh signage which will help people navigate both daytime and nigh-time economies.
“I am sure the investment will be welcomed by all as we continue to work closely with our partners in the council to regenerate our great city.”
“We have engaged at length with businesses throughout the city centre on the suspended signage plans and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback and support for its installation.”
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “At a time when all efforts are being made to safely welcome visitors back to the city centre, it is incredibly welcome news that the suspended signage project is on track for completion later this year.
“Recent engagement with businesses has highlighted the need to continue to make the city centre a welcoming place for visitors and the new suspended signage will help people to explore different parts of the city centre as we continue to work towards recovering from the impact of the pandemic.”
Documents submitted alongside the application set out the vision for the illuminated street signs project.
It said the signs would increase people’s knowledge of Aberdeen City Centre and give it a boost.
The document said the scheme will set out to: “Enliven and improve the city centre of Aberdeen, for residents, visitors, businesses, celebrate some of the key streets, ‘zones’ and important connective routes in the city centre.
“To increase knowledge and awareness of the city centre, encouraging pedestrian movement, exploration and discovery and ultimately to improve the experience of people in the city centre and to positively impact the city.”
A report by Aberdeen City Council’s planning service said the illuminated street signs would “enhance” parts of the city centre.
The document said: “It is considered that the hanging street sign advertisements would add interest to and enhance how some parts of the city centre are experienced and improve wayfinding, both of which are key aims of the City Centre Masterplan.
“Care and attention have been paid to ensuring that the walls to which the signs would be affixed are predominantly on secondary elevations of buildings and that no historic fabric would be unduly altered or obscured by the works.
“The setting of listed buildings and the character and appearance of the Union Street Conservation Area would be preserved and it is considered that the works would preserve the amenity in each of the locations. The proposed signage would also not pose any threat to public safety.”
Aberdeen-based firm Scotia Animations will deliver the electrical works for the illuminated street signs with John Anthony Signs making them.
Hopes are also high it could also become a draw for tourists once the Covid-19 measures are lifted.
Jo Robinson, VisitScotland regional director, said: “Once tourism begins to reopen, we want to help encourage Scots to rediscover their own country through day trips, city breaks and holidays – and to support local businesses.
“It’s more important than ever that we make it as simple as possible for visitors to get a sense of our vibrant city and move around it easily. We want them to be able to see and understand the key zones, locations and places to visit and this scheme will really help with that orientation.
“Our aim is to make visitors feel welcome in Aberdeen and to make their visit a ‘must-return’ one. Tourism is a force for good and has a part to play in not just providing jobs and economic benefits to every corner of Scotland but also bringing benefits to wellbeing and society.”
Ewan Mclean, general manager at The Spiritualist in Aberdeen, added: “The signs will provide a sense of place and help define the individual areas and their unique offerings as well as making the city more welcoming for the influx of people we hope to see return to our city centre’s many excellent bars and pubs as soon as it is safe to do so.”