Work on scheme by LDA Design due to start this summer

Work is finally to start on the redevelopment of Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens more than 10 years after Brisac Gonzalez first won planning for an arts centre in the park.

The park has a long and toubled planning history, with that project replaced by an ambitious and expensive scheme designed by Diller Scofidio & Renfro - which was in turn ditched.

Finally LDA Design won a more modest contract in 2016 to give the gardens a facelift. A proposal for three pavilions, a walkway from Union Street, landscaping and lighting, and the refurbishment of the Union Terrace arches won planning in 2017.

Balfour Beatty was last week appointed contractor and said construction - which could take two years - would start after a final three months of detailed design.

The first phase of work will include building a permanent safety structure on Union Bridge.

>> Also read: Has Aberdeen chosen the right design for its City Gardens?


When councillors gave the go-ahead to LDA’s project it brought to an end years of controversy that dogged the future of the Victorian sunken gardens.

Brisac Gonzalez’s £13m visual arts building for Peacock Visual Arts won planning in 2008 – but was canned a year later after local oil magnate Ian Wood stepped forward with more ambitious proposals for the city centre site.

After an international design contest featuring Foster & Partners, Gareth Hoskins, Niall McLaughlin and Mecanoo, Diller Scofidio & Renfro was appointed to create a £140m “granite web” that would have raised the gardens to street level.

The proposal sparked a huge storm among residents of the granite city, with Aberdeen-born singer Annie Lennox dubbing it “another dog’s dinner of crap concrete development, ravaging the only authentic, historical green space in the city centre”.

It was narrowly backed by the public in a referendum but eventually dropped after a knife-edge vote by the planning committee in 2012.