By Anton Constantinou
If you thought Aberdeen had lost its place as a leading UK city, think again. Change is on the way. As a longstanding oil and gas centre, the Scottish city has lots of developments in the pipeline. We give you the Aberdeen Renaissance:
Transformation of Aberdeen’s roads is currently underway in the form of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route. The £745m dual carriageway, connecting north and south Aberdeen, will have a positive impact on rush hour road traffic and congestion, especially in the Union Street area. Similar progress has already been achieved with the opening of the new third Don crossing last year, and completion of Inveramsay Bridge.
But it isn’t just new roads that Aberdonians have to look forward to. Transport Scotland has allocated £330m for a section of railway between Aberdeen and the Inverness, in an effort to cut commuter times.
Aberdeen International Airport, meanwhile, is undergoing an evolution of its own. A three year project aimed at increasing the capacity of its main terminal will bring with it two new first floor business lounge, among other features, by 2019. The Duchess of Rothesay was recently present for the completion of phase one, touring the airport’s new baggage reclaim area and passenger lounge.
“As a frequent flyer to this beautiful part of the world it gives me enormous pleasure to open the new phase of Aberdeen airport.” she said.
At an environmental level, Aberdeen has numerous green schemes lined up. The Middlefield Greenspace & Regeneration Project is being linked with improvement to public spaces on the Middlefield housing estate – currently one of Scotland’s most deprived areas. The ambition is to bring greater connectivity between residents and their environment through a wider variety of local activities. Community ownership is a big part of the project, and a concerted effort is being made to plant more trees and wildflowers.
Fosterhill Campus, Europe’s largest hospital complex, is located in Aberdeen and limited in terms of walkways and cycle paths. But a new “destination green space” is set to address that problem through a mixture of tree planting, water storage features and better access routes.
Major development is also in the running for Aberdeen’s Bon Accord shopping centre. The mall is set to feature a 28,000 sq ft cinema complex, capable of seating up to 800 people, along with seven restaurants. Other expansion plans include a new entrance into the mall, in addition to creative net lighting on George Street. Members of the public have been invited to share their thoughts on this and other aspects of city centre as part of a masterplan project centred on its redesign.
Similar extension plans were put in for the Union Square shopping centre in 2016. Union Square owners requested a £200m pound cash injection in a bid to add 30 new retailers, more parking and 120-bedroom hotel to the already bustling complex.
Along with new infrastructure, the Scottish government has granted more than £130m in funding for new housing in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. The cash injection will help the government deliver on its promise of 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021, as well as create new jobs in the housebuilding sector.
Once famous for its fishing, shipbuilding and papermaking, Aberdeen could very well return to its former heights, given time and investment. With money being poured into different facets of the city’s infrastructure, we should, in the very least, be entertaining the idea of a renaissance.