ABERDEEN City Council today announced plans to move the city’s showcase Exhibition and Conference Centre to a new site next to the Rowett Institute at Dyce as part of ambitious proposals for a £200 million redevelopment of the loss making facility.
The Labour-led administrant also named Henry Boot Developments, one of the UK’s leading property development companies, as the preferred bidder for the joint venture project.
Council leaders claimed earlier this week that the council-owned AECC at the Bridge of Don, which opened in 1985, was “past its sell by date.”
Councillor Barney Crockett, the leader of the council, said today:
“The AECC makes a crucial contribution to the economy of Aberdeen and the broader city region. It has become clear in recent years that the existing facility is no longer fit for purpose or big enough to accommodate some of the larger shows and events.
“We must ensure Aberdeen continues to attract large and popular events, like Offshore Europe, to the city. Securing a top-class
exhibition centre is essential if we are to succeed in that.”
He continued “The AECC is a key element of the business infrastructure needed to promote Aberdeen as the energy capital of Europe. The provision of continued support to maintain this asset and enable it to develop and do an even better job is essential. The Henry Boot Developments proposal for a new facility on a new site is very innovative and exciting. I look forward to working on this joint venture.”
The site chosen for the new AECC, Rowett North, is next to Aberdeen University’s world renowned Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health Nick Harris of Henry Boot Developments said: “We are delighted that Aberdeen City Council has selected Henry Boot Developments as its preferred development partner to deliver the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.
“The new facility will be an exciting enhancement to the business and leisure facilities in the North-east of Scotland and we look forward to working with the council to deliver the best solution for Aberdeen.”
David Anderson, the company’s managing director, said “We are
confident that we can deliver a state-of-the-art exhibition and
conference centre to enable the city to build on its reputation as a major conference and exhibition venue. The economic benefits of the redevelopment project for Aberdeen will be significant and greatly enhance the status of the city as a regional centre.
“We look forward to working closely with Aberdeen City Council to
achieve the timely delivery of this new facility.”
A council spokeswoman explained: “The AECC is a key element of the business structure needed to promote Aberdeen as a World Energy City and the Energy Capital of Europe. The facility’s economic impact on the North east economy was assessed as being £50million annually by AECC Ltd.
“However, the existing facility is no longer fit for purpose and
energy and building maintenance costs are steadily rising. It is no longer large enough to accommodate some of the growing exhibitions and conferences held there, notably Offshore Europe, and is not large enough to accommodate some of the larger sets required for concerts.
“Event operators are seeking improvements to the facility, citing the use of temporary space for large exhibitions, accessibility, car parking, site security, and safety, as issues which need to be addressed if they are continue bringing their business to the venue and the city.”
She added: “ Aberdeen City Council will enter into a 35 year lease of the newly completed facility, after which it will be entitled to purchase the AECC development, including the land, for £1.”
Last year, loans of £26.2 million owed by the conference centre, were written off by the council in order to give the AECC a “firmer financial footing.”