£20m vision for controversial Aberdeen park unveiled

New designs aim to improve accessibility and facilities at the park. PIC LDA Design
New designs aim to improve accessibility and facilities at the park. PIC LDA Design
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The £20m vision to overhaul a controversial city centre park in Aberdeen has been revealed.

The designs are the latest development in the controversial upgrade of Union Terrace Gardens with hopes to transform the space into the city’s “favourite destination”.

Designs for the north end of Union Terrace Gardens. PIC LDA Designs

Designs for the north end of Union Terrace Gardens. PIC LDA Designs

Four years ago, councillors rejected a £50m offer from oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood to radically overhaul the space as part of a wider £140m regeneration project, which narrowly won the backing of residents in a city-wide referendum.

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Aberdeen City Council commissioned LDA Designs to come up with an alternative design for the park, which is sunken below street level, with the proposals going on show in the city this weekend.

The public will also get to have their say on the new vision via an online survey.

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LDA Design project director Kirstin Taylor said: “Our aim is to make the gardens everyone’s favourite all-year-round destination.

“The proposals enhance what is there, keeping as many trees as possible and providing a rich new planting scheme.

“Fine features such as the granite balustrading will be repaired, and the ‘grand staircase’ reinstated.

“We propose easier and more inviting access with new raised walks which allow for longer views and a gradual descent, and new disabled parking and lifts into the lower areas of the gardens.

“We are proposing a beautiful lighting installation as a beacon, and new lighting for the monuments and viaduct and the arches to animate the upper terrace.

“The gardens could be a lively cultural hub and our proposals include flexible spaces for events with an informal amphitheatre, and new community garden space.

“New facilities and more activities will make them feel safer.”

Councillors are expected to vote on the new designs in March next year with the overhaul completed by late 2019 if approved.

While Sir Ian Wood had proposed raising the park to the level of Union Street, the latest proposals maintain its subterranean position and improve access.

The central lawn space remains in the new designs with a cafe pavilion also proposed.

Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing said she was delighted with the new designs.

She added: “LDA was tasked with improving access, amenity and activity while conserving UTG’s rich heritage - what residents asked for during a consultation on the Masterplan itself.

“These proposals respect the unique character of the gardens while making the space more usable for all. I would urge all residents to share their views so the LDA can refine the design and ensure we get the best result for everyone.

“Union Terrace Gardens represents a glorious gift from the past and in turn can be our gift to future generations. It is ours to nurture.”

The plans will also be on show at The Academy in Belmont Street this weekend, and the Christmas Village on Union Terrace Gardens next week.