A HUGE swathe of Dundee’s waterfront which will become home to the city’s V&A museum is set to be unveiled - around six months ahead of schedule.
A new park and walkways between the Caird Hall and the River Tay have been created at the heart of a £100 million “Central Waterfront” area.
Progress on the first phase of a wider £1 billion regeneration - where the museum attraction is already taking shape - was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to a project predicted to create 7000 new jobs.
A series of bridge ramps, roads and buildings have been swept away to create a network of green spaces and public boulevards which will “reconnect” the city to its waterfront when it opens in phases from next month.
New spaces for large-scale public events and sites for major developments are also being created, along with a new road lay-out and improved access to the Tay Bridge, next to the site of the £81 million museum.
The Slessor Gardens, named after missionary Mary Slessor, who was brought up in the city and went on to spread Christianity in Nigeria, are at the heart of the long-term revamp, which the city started planning around 15 years ago.
It has seen the demolition of Dundeer City Council’s former headquarters, a Hilton hotel and a Gala casino, and the relocation of the Olympia leisure centre. An overhaul of its railway station is underway.
The V&A itself will be opening around four years later than originally envisaged after protracted delays over its complex design, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, and a soaring budget.
Work finally got underway in March of last year after a rescue deal was agreed by the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the city council following an admission that the cost of the project, expected to attract around 300,000 visitors a year, had almost doubled.
The wider regeneration is already said to be past the half-way point, with £600 million worth of investment already made in the area.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Scotland has a proud tradition and enviable global reputation for engineering excellence, built on the skills and innovation of our people, making it an attractive location for business investment. The fact that this project is largely supported by local contractors, engineers and apprentices is something we should be proud of.
“I am delighted that the Scottish Government is part of transforming a post-industrial city into a centre for the creative economy with this ground-breaking development.”
City council leader Ken Guild said: “We expect more private investment in the project, to the tune of £400 million over the next 10 to 15 years, as the surge in interest we are currently seeing from developers bears fruit.
“That will produce more of the jobs and prosperity we are seeking and it is pleasing to note that there have already been substantial community benefits resulting from the project.
“Our Central Waterfront is an exciting hive of activity as progress continues on a number of major projects, including V&A Dundee and the railway station.”
Philip Long, director of V&A Dundee, said: “V&A Dundee will be an international centre of design, sitting proudly right at the heart of the Dundee’s waterfront and symbolising the city’s confidence and growing ambition in a very real and physical way.
“When the museum opens, we will inspire hundreds of thousands of visitors from far and wide with the remarkable story of Scotland’s design heritage.
“Through world-class exhibitions, events and programmes, we want to show how design and creativity can be used to help others, to improve the lives of our communities and the success of our businesses, extending this country’s reputation for innovation and enterprise.”