A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to completely redevelop Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen city centre has been approved by a slim majority in a public vote.
Residents were asked to vote in a referendum on whether they wanted to retain the gardens as they are, or see the £140 million City Garden Project taken forward.
There were 45,301 votes for the project, compared to 41,175 to retain the gardens.
The “Granite Web” plan was last month chosen as the winning design for the redevelopment of the gardens, incorporating 70,000sq ft of green space within eight gardens, along with a cultural and arts centre with a cafe and two new plazas on Union Street and Belmont Street.
Sir Ian Wood, the Aberdeen oil services tycoon, has pledged £50 million of his own money to the project.
More than 86,000 votes were cast online, by post and by phone during the referendum.
Councillor Martin Greig, who opposed the City Gardens proposal and instead supported the refurbishment of the existing gardens, said: “This result shows the influence of big money. Money talks.
“This decision to use public money for the private development of a city park has caused enormous damage by dividing opinion so firmly.”
But the result was welcomed by economic development organisation the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI).
Regional director Ian Armstrong said: “SCDI members consistently tell us that a strong and vibrant heart to the city is an essential catalyst for retaining and attracting new investment into the region and the voters should be commended for recognising this and embracing the need for radical change.
“We would now urge the council and Scottish Government to move swiftly to finalise the business case and proceed to the detailed planning stage in a timely manner.”