A COUNCIL plans to spend millions refurbishing a historic garden three years after snubbing an oil tycoon’s £50 million donation.
Sir Ian Wood gave the money to Aberdeen in 2009 in the hope that the dilapidated Union Terrace Gardens could be turned into a modern civic square.
The ambitious project, which would have involved raising the sunken gardens to street level, was mired in controversy with many campaign groups opposing the scheme.
But it was finally given the go-ahead after residents voted in favour of the multi-million pound project at a public referendum in 2012.
However, a new Labour-led administration came into power following council elections a few weeks later and the scheme was scrapped.
Sir Ian eventually withdrew his offer and the one hectare area of grassland in the heart of the city remained the same.
Now the city council has unveiled new proposals to refurbish the site and has just agreed to ask specialists to draw up plans for the revamp.
This could include turning the Victorian park arches into units for shops and galleries with a large bridge built to connect Belmont Street to Union Terrace.
It could cost up to £17m for the scheme which will possibly involve an expansion of the park into the Woolmanhill area behind the city theatre.
The council’s finance, policy and resources committee has now unanimously agreed to invite firms to bid to carry out design work.
The chosen firm will provide costings and a business case, and if the work is approved by the council, work could start by the end of next year.
Yesterday Councillor Alan Donnelly said the plans could also include lighting up the park to make it look more attractive in the evenings.
He said: “We realise that it has been left in neglect for years.”
Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing added: “This design commission will deliver a transformational regeneration scheme for Union Terrace Gardens.
“This is not simply about historic renovation of a much-loved Victorian park but the delivery of a contemporary, attractive and active environment for residents, workers and visitors to Aberdeen city centre.”