Major public realm enhancements are to be drawn up for Broad Street after Aberdeen City Council agreed to take forward proposals.
The project – part of the City Centre Masterplan – will involve making Broad Street open to buses, cycles and pedestrians only.
In a report for Full Council, officers recommended that Council support this option, highlighting a range of environmental and economic benefits.
A public consultation exercise on options for enhancing Broad Street had revealed a desire for improved air quality, less traffic congestion, better pedestrian and cycle safety, and new event space.
City Council leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “Today’s decision promises to further enhance our city centre by making it an even more attractive place to live, work or visit.
“The Broad Street project will deliver significant new public realm space and allow us to create temporary space for a variety of events. Crucially, it also maintains good access to the city centre while supporting sustainable transport.
“This is another major step in delivering a clean, connected, dynamic and vibrant city centre that will mark Aberdeen out as a global business and leisure destination.”
The Broad Street proposal is one of four major transport projects contained in the City Centre Masterplan. Unanimously approved by Council in June 2015, it outlines 49 economic, infrastructure, environmental and community projects to transform the city centre over the next 25 years.
On 11 May 2016, Council agreed Broad Street should be the starting point for the four transport projects and instructed officers to undertake public consultation on the benefits and challenges associated with three options:
1. Keeping it open to all traffic
2. Making it buses, cycles and pedestrians only
3. Making it pedestrians and cycles only
A total of 1,067 people took part. Analysts reported a high level of support for some form of pedestrian priority in Broad Street, but similar support for retaining Broad Street as a thoroughfare.
Deputy city council leader Councillor Marie Boulton, who chairs the cross-party City Centre Regeneration Board, said: “The analysts were greatly impressed by the quality of the feedback, which will be used in taking the detailed design forward.
“It was also hugely helpful to hear from people about how they’d like to see the new space used, with suggestions including markets, concerts and art exhibitions.
“The Masterplan has widespread support and implementation is already under way with projects like the Art Gallery, but its continuing success will be down to people working together to make the vision a reality.”
Chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce Russell Borthwick said: “This outcome represents the kind of brave and decisive action that we need from our councillors if we are to begin writing the next chapter in the Aberdeen success story and we very much welcome it.
“This is just the latest in a series of good news stories about and investment in the city.
“The Masterplan can see our city centre reinvented as a truly unique 21st century global destination; the economic hub of – as well as the amazing gateway to – a fantastic and prosperous city region, if we all play our part.”
The council also agreed to take account of the Winter Festival 2016/17 and to consider the timing and location of International Markets during Broad Street works.
The public realm intervention will be accommodated from the £1.12 million set aside within the contract with Muse, which is developing the Marischal Square hotel and office complex on Broad Street.
Detailed designs will be brought back to Council for approval. The public realm work is scheduled for completion in summer 2017.