Build around not through and we can have Marischal Square

Aberdeen City Council is totally wrong in its outrageously misleading development of Broad Street – initially bandied around as the formation of a civic square fronting Marischal College.

There is no doubt the spec for the development was drawn up entirely with commercialisation in mind and the public consultation was the usual tokenistic gesture politics for surely there never was any intention to modify economic  priorities  with anything as prosaic as public opinion.  

It is clear that while Aberdeen City Council is happy to provide a blank sheet for the creation of shops, offices, parking  and a hotel it is less interested (uninterested) in what the people of the city want.

Of course councils ignoring peoples’ wishes is hardly a new phenomenon but it is disappointing when it occurs without even the suggestion of any sop to popular opinion.

Contrary to what the Labour group says there is nothing, absolutely nothing in this design to attract people into the city. On the other hand a large photogenic square would most definitely become a tourist attraction as well as a potential hub for local people.  Think of what social media could do to spread images of Aberdeen’s fine civic square with the backdrop of the magnificent Marischal College. Wouldn’t that enhance the attractiveness of Aberdeen?

This development used to be referred to as Marischal Square. Now there is NO SQUARE – instead there is a bog-standard street to be built – and not even a broad one despite being on Broad Street.

But there is a compromise that the council should grasp.

Create a square, or rectangle, from the old St Nix to Upper Kirkgate and along the Flourmill Lane, preserving Provost Skene’s House, with commercial properties. Instead of building over the whole area buildings would surround it. This would result in an open public space facing Marischal College. Such a space would enhance the attractiveness of any hotel fronting an open area instead of into a narrow street.

Surely it is time for the council to listen to its critics over this debacle. It’s not so long ago several of its members were very vocally critical over the awful proposals for Union Terrace Gardens but this is as bad and here we find the Labour group are poachers turned gamekeepers.

You are wrong Jenny Laing, you are wrong Willie Young  – Aberdeen Civic Society and the thousands of people who provided you with their sensible views are correct. In fact you should both be thoroughly ashamed of your small-minded approach to what is a unique opportunity to lay down a real legacy for the city. It speaks volumes that you can’t see this.

Shops, offices, hotel in green. Marischal Square in orange.

Shops, offices, hotel in green. Marischal Square in orange.

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