An investigation is underway into reports huge granite steps from Union Terrace Gardens are no longer in the council’s possession.
The bulky stones are understood to have been stowed away at the bottom of an Aberdeen back garden, after being offered to their new owner.
Council staff are now scrambling to find out how it might have happened – given recent assurances all granite from the Victorian park would be reused in the £28 million renovation work.
Top officials are said to be probing the allegations – which they have not confirmed – with contractor Balfour Beatty, admitting such a breach would be “concerning”.
A council spokeswoman told us: “It would be concerning if granite has been removed from Union Terrace Gardens (UTG) without our permission.
“We are liaising with officers as to the facts around the alleged removal of granite from UTG who have confirmed they are investigating the matter with our contractor.”
When the transformation works were approved in 2018, planners made it clear they expected all the granite to be reused in the new design – unless they had agreed and authorised otherwise.
A “grand” staircase from Rosemount Viaduct, three new pavilions, events space and refurbishment of the Victorian toilets in the park are part of the project.
Benevolent new owner willing to return granite steps – if the council asks
The good news – should investigators find the stone is indeed from the city centre gardens – is the new owner, who has chosen to remain anonymous, appears willing to return them to the local authority.
Rumours of the blunder have been circulating for days – but an investigation was only launched after the matter was pushed by Councillor Ian Yuill.
He said: “I was put in touch with the person who had these and I subsequently was invited to see the stones for myself.
“There are a large number of pieces of granite, which look like they may have come from UTG, sitting in a private garden.
“The person who has them told me they would be happy to return these should the council wish to have them.
“I have raised this with senior council staff and they are now following this up as a matter of urgency.”
Yuill: ‘It would be a disaster’ for Aberdeen’s granite heritage to be destroyed
Mr Yuill, the Liberal Democrat group leader on the council, is also concerned by reports granite has been taken away from the gardens to be crushed.
He had initially queried those claims with officials last week, who had ruled it out.
But their authority has been somewhat undermined by their accompanying comments, suggesting “ALL” – in capital letters – granite was to be retained and reused.
Mr Yuill added: “I have spoken to a senior planner about granite being crushed and it is being pursued.
“This is clearly alarming and it is important that this action is taken to resolve this as quickly as possible.
“Aberdeen’s granite heritage is irreplaceable and it would be a disaster if part of it has been wilfully destroyed despite planning controls being in place to prevent that.”
“It’s obviously very important that if this is happening, that no further granite is destroyed.”