Ambitious plans to regenerate Aberdeen city centre could generate £4billion of investment, the Press and Journal can reveal today.
The 25-year masterplan includes 49 projects, ranging from lighting up key city buildings at night to pedestranising parts Union Street.
Bosses at the local authority believe the scheme could bring around £1billion in initial investment, with the “vast majority” coming from the private sector.
And the projects could generate as much as £2.8billion in additional revenue when completed, according to council sources.
Around 5,500 new jobs could be created from the huge amount of new office space, bringing an expected 3,000 new residents to the city centre.
Critics said the masterplan must not just be a “wish list” and questioned the “ambitious” figure last night.
But council leader Jenny Laing hailed the “once in a generation opportunity”.
She said: “Masterplanning consultants BDP estimated that delivery of the 49 city centre projects could attract in the region of £1billion worth of investment.
“The vast majority of this will come from the private sector and the city has previously demonstrated its ability to leverage such investment through schemes such as Marischal Square and the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.
“We do not underestimate the size of the task but the prize will benefit the city, the region and the whole of Scotland as not only will thousands of jobs and homes be created and built in the city centre, but it could also generate several billion more for the wider Aberdeen city region economy.”
And for the first time the timescale of the long awaited projects can be revealed.
Plans to light up the Granite City at night through “high quality general and featural” lighting would be completed by 2019 as part of the “Aberdeen in colour” project.
Upgrades to Union Street, Guild Street, Rose Street, Thistle Street, Chapel Street, Windmill Brae, Langstane Place and Justice Mill Lane have been penned in for completion by 2020, although the report admits these are “likely to be later”.
After previously rejecting a £50million bid from Sir Ian Wood to redevelop Union Terrace Gardens, the council hope their own plan – including landscaping, refurbishment of the toilets, a new amphitheatre and a bridge from Belmont Street to Union Terrace – will be also be completed by 2020.
Plans to turn Golden Square into a “cycle hub” and “new outdoor performance space” and the building of a “pocket park” in Schoolhill could be completed as next December if plans are approved.
Turning Castlegate into a “key tourist attraction” should be completed by 2021 while redevelopment of Queens Square into a housing and shopping zone would be finished by 2030.
And the administration aims to open suburban train stations to improve connectivity to the city by 2018.
Much of the funding will come from the council’s capital budget, but some of the £250million City Region Deal money will also be used.
The authority’s masterplan reference group will meet this week to discuss how to push ahead with the many projects.
Councillors put party differences aside to unanimously vote through the 49-project plan in June last year.
But each project will need to go through the planning process before being started.
Last night finance convener Willie Young dismissed suggestions the masterplan was just a “wish list”.
He said: “Our timescale shows that there is a willingness to regenerate Aberdeen – this isn’t just a plan that will sit on a shelf gathering dust.
“There are more cranes in this city just now than any other in the UK outside London and I think that shows how ambitious we are about the city.”
Deputy council leader Marie Boulton, tasked with delivering the masterplan, said: “I’m confident there will be measures we can all get behind.”