The new administration at Aberdeen City Council have come under some pressure – not least from this blog – to come forward with their plan for the regeneration of Aberdeen city centre, following their controversial voting down of the City Garden Plan
, which had been backed by the majority of Aberdonians in the earlier referendum.
At the council meeting that voted down the plan there was talk of refurbishing prominent city centre buildings, the Mither Kirk, focussing on Union Street and improvements to the existing Union Terrace Gardens.
Having expended considerable time talking of the evils of TIF funding, it was a bit surprising to see the same councillors suddenly hoping that TIF could be their saviour in funding the alternative plan. Predictably, the Scottish Government pointed out that the TIF proposal was specifically tied to the City Garden Project.
Perhaps aware that the rather vague alternative plan was not satisfying Aberdonian’s desire to see a real vision to fill the vacuum left by the City Garden Project, we then had the announcements about dusting off plans to pedestrianse sections of Union Street.
Now, from the council comes talk of rail link to Aberdeen Airport. Almost immediately, Aberdeen Airport said that – while it would welcome the idea – no-one had spoken to them about it!
A rail link would certainly be a very popular move, if it were feasible. Almost everywhere else in Europe, you expect to walk from the arrival gate straight to a rail station that can take you into the city centre.
It is particularly apt when the airport point out that they have a plan to increase passenger traffic by 500,000 but there are real concerns that the road network cannot deliver them to the terminal building! Why do we never seem to plan sufficiently ahead?
I have often wondered if 1970s planners in Aberdeen got it wrong by moving the airport terminal away
from the railway station.
The trouble for the beleaguered Aberdeen ruling coalition is that all these announcements (especially when there appears to be a few loose ends) seem to be spur of the moment announcements, rather than part of a bigger vision for the future of Aberdeen.
If there is to be a chance of putting the City Garden Project behind us, our leaders need to give people confidence that they have (or are moving towards) a vision that people who care about Aberdeen can really get enthused about.
Random announcements of possible unpriced, un-consulted schemes, just won’t cut it.
Making matters worse, the announcements seem to be coming from Town House in an equally random and unplanned manner, which simply compounds the feeling that there is no real plan or strategy.