When it comes down to it, breathing new life into the heart of Aberdeen isn’t really rocket science – putting things in the city centre that people want to visit should do the trick.
The million-dollar question, though, is what? The answer can be found in the bold plans for the new Aberdeen Market. If you’re not excited at what’s on the table now, then you’ve not looked at them properly.
First, though, a wee history lesson. Aberdeen Market has been at the heart of the city for generations, in one way or another. First as the splendid Victorian edifice built by Archibald Simpson that burnt down and, latterly, as the rather unfortunate concrete carbuncle bolted on to British Home Stores.
Few lamented when the wrecking ball levelled the place – although it was shame to lose that iconic Nuart mural. But there’s no question that Aberdeen needs and deserves its market.
So, we should all be singing the praises of what’s intended to fill the gap that’s been left while creating a new and vibrant space.
The artist’s impressions released last week are – well – impressive. A sensitive new structure that will create a sensible and attractive connection between Union Street and the Green – and about time too.
Another wee history lesson pause. The Green is possibly the oldest part of Aberdeen, the nucleus of a community from prehistoric times that grew into the Granite City. It was at the heart of the town and deserves to be put back in that special place.
This development does that, creating an open space where people can gather, busy street markets can be held, and the surrounding area brought back to bustling life with special events.
You can just visualise crowds of folk flocking there for set-piece occasions, with the Green being the centre of the city’s many festivals, or where folk go to watch big sporting events. Every major city has somewhere like that. Now Aberdeen has the chance to have its very own.
An opportunity to kickstart the renaissance
The new market will also create a natural flow between the bus and rail stations – and, yes, Union Square, too. That will go a long way to boosting footfall onto Union Street itself.
Never mind the architecture and all the benefits it will bring. What about plans for creating an international food and drink market? What better way to showcase the fantastic produce we have here in the north-east – not to mention our massively talented creative community?
It is proven beyond doubt that markets like these not only improve city centres for locals, but turn them into magnets for visitors. And, with all those cruise ships lining up to berth here, let’s give them something to tell their mates back home about.
The new Aberdeen Market isn’t just another shopping centre, or another new building. It’s an opportunity to kickstart the much-needed renaissance of our city centre.
Let’s get behind it, get it built, and create something truly special in the heart of Aberdeen.
Scott Begbie is a former journalist and editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express