Garden space plan revealed for part of Granite City's civic square

THE development organisation spearheading ambitious plans to create a new "beating heart" for Aberdeen yesterday revealed proposals to turn half of the civic square site into an "iconic and landmark" garden space.

A public consultation on the proposed City Square project for Union Terrace Gardens is due to be launched later this month.

Sir Ian Wood, the head of the Aberdeen-based Wood Group, has already pledged 50 million from his personal fortune to create what he has described as a "vibrant new heart" for Europe's oil capital by creating a new city-centre square above the valley containing Union Terrace Gardens, the Denburn dual carriageway and the main Aberdeen-Inverness rail line.

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But opponents of the scheme have condemned the loss of the historic city centre gardens as part of the proposed 140m scheme.

Yesterday, however, the local development forum, Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (ACSEF), announced its intention to create internationally renowned and potentially award-winning gardens within the City Square project.

And the development body said that the "iconic and landmark" gardens should make up at least half of the five acres proposed to create the new civic square.

Tom Smith, the chairman of ACSEF, said: "The current gardens are about two and a half acres. Our ambition is to have the same, if not more, green space than at present but green space which is more accessible and more visible.

"By reaching out to highly talented designers we could create the most inspiring and iconic gardens which could become recognised around the world."

ACSEF will be opening up its proposals to public consultation on 11 January.

Mr Smith stressed: "While we do not want to pre-empt the consultation, we want to make it clear to people that our plans are not about replacing gardens with a concrete square but about using the natural sloping topography of the location to create a civic space with gardens which everyone can enjoy. "