Grey day as Granite City fails to square the circle

ABERDEEN City Council has been tossed what seems a fizzing grenade following the public vote on proposals for a new civic square in the heart of the city. Plans for the £140 million development, backed by a pledge of £50m from businessman Sir Ian Wood, were put out to public consultation.

A majority of people have come out against the plan. Out of a total of 11,943 submissions, some 55 per cent were opposed, with 44 per cent in support. The future of the project will now be decided at a meeting of Aberdeen City Council on 19 May.

Such submissions do not represent the views of those who are neutral or undemonstrative, nor is the majority verdict binding. Such polls can reflect the opposition of an active minority rather than the preference of the broad community. But many councillors will find it difficult to proceed with a scheme that has attracted so much controversy.

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Sir Ian may be reaping the whirlwind of public scepticism over city centre redevelopment and modern planning in general. Carefully considered though his proposals may have been, the very word "development" can bring out fierce suspicion. The solution surely lies in a more nuanced proposal, adopting the best features of the plan while preserving those aspects of the area that local people would like to see kept.

The city should be mindful of the integrity of areas to which the public feels attached. But it should beware of opposing all change.

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