Council bosses have been accused of ignoring public opinion over plans to redevelop the former St Nicholas House site in Aberdeen.
A report seen by the Press and Journal reveals the majority of the 4,000 people who responded to the first consultation did not support the proposals for a hotel, offices and shops which are now being put forward.
Last night the developers behind the scheme insisted they had listened to feedback and “significantly altered” their designs to provide more public space and greater prominence for the 16th-century Provost Skene’s House.
But one critic said there was a danger of “history repeating itself” and the city being left with an eyesore like St Nicholas House, which is being demolished to make way for the £107million transformation.
Muse and Aviva Investors submitted detailed plans for the revamp of Aberdeen’s former council headquarters to the city’s planning department on Thursday.
The most popular use for the area – suggested in 775 responses in the consultation document, the Marischal Square stage 1 community consultation – was as an open space.
Other comments criticised plans to use glass in the construction and said people did not want another suite of offices on the site.
Councillor John Corall, SNP group infrastructure spokesman, said the plans went completely against public opinion.
“I have not met one person who is in favour of the development that is being proposed,” he said.
“The thought of history repeating itself just like St Nicholas House is utmost in their minds.
“The vast majority of people in Aberdeen wanted an open space, not a development that will be worse than what was there before.
“This is the same administration who rejected a referendum on Union Terrace Gardens when people were in favour of it.”
Finance and resources convener Councillor Willie Young said the responses in the first consultation represented a “very small sample” of the city’s residents.
He added: “Some people who have responded have misunderstood what the consultation was about.
“The council entered in to a binding legal agreement with Muse on a lease-back basis.
“It was never for the council to determine that it would be open space – it’s a commercial space.
“This is part of the regeneration of our city.”
A spokesman for Muse said the development would have a long-term positive impact on the economy in Aberdeen, creating 300 construction jobs and with the potential to support or create 1,500 jobs when it is fully occupied.
He added: “The proposal – which was significantly altered to reflect the feedback received from members of the public during our extensive pre-application consultation – is fully in line with Aberdeen City Council’s development and infrastructure plans and provides for a mix of uses including offices, a hotel, retail, cafes and restaurants, and areas of high quality public realm that are publicly accessible.”
The plans can be viewed on the Aberdeen City Council website, or by appointment at Marischal College.