A councillor has called for a section of the city centre to be turned back into residential housing.
Martin Greig, who represents Hazlehead, Countesswells and Queen’s Cross, has written to the head of planning at Aberdeen City Council about the planning policy on Queen’s Road and Albyn Place.
Many properties in the west end of the city have been converted from extravagant houses into office buildings. Councillor Greig said the practice has become “outdated and is detrimental to the area”.
He added: “The West End office policy is a product of the 1970s and has become seriously outdated. I have tried to fight against the tide by opposing individual proposals seeking to convert housing into offices.
“I also tried to stop some of the huge extensions built on to granite mansions. It is frustrating not to succeed. The policy creates an assumption in favour of offices that has been genuinely difficult to overcome. Aberdeen now has a considerable surplus of office space so we have a real opportunity to return the area back into a more residential community. Albyn Place and Queen’s Road have some of our most outstanding granite buildings yet we have let this unique heritage become compromised by promoting commercial use over housing.
“In any other city these would be highly desirable homes instead of office accommodation. My hope is that the moratorium on affordable housing contributions that we agreed last week will encourage a return to the original residential character.
“I want the West End office policy to be scrapped or, at least, reviewed. It is time to start valuing and improving the West End environment.”
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The letter comes two weeks after planning permission was granted to turn 60 Queen’s Road into an office.
Queen’s Cross and Harlaw Community Council objected to the plans, saying: “There are already (at the last count) over 30 large billboards advertising vacant office space down Queen’s Road, and this does not take into account other empty offices not being advertised so obviously. Surely it would make more sense to leave the houses as they are on Queen’s Road and entice the businesses to open offices on Union Street, thus making our main street more active and vibrant with people.”
Councillor Ryan Houghton said: “As we have seen with the Liberal Democrats over time they are not always at one when it comes to matters pertaining to policy as Councillor Ian Yuill voted against allowing for a moratorium on developers contributions while Councillor Greig voted to allow for the moratorium on affordable housing contributions.
“If Councillor Greig thinks the West End office policy is a product of the 1970s and has become seriously outdated, he and his Liberal Democrat group has an opportunity to change that as part of the local development plan which will be introduced to the council by officers before the end of the year.”