Work is to get under way on the revamp of Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens in a matter of weeks.
Council leaders gathered at the historic site yesterday for the ceremonial turf-cutting event ahead of construction starting on the £25.7 million project.
The programme of works was also announced which is expected to begin on September 9.
Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said the local authority was “making history” with its plans to transform one of the city’s landmarks.
He said: “In transforming Union Terrace Gardens, we are making history in the heart of Aberdeen.
“This is an enormously exciting time as we increase our cultural, heritage and tourism offer and enjoy all the economic benefits that brings.
“P&J Live has just opened, the redeveloped Aberdeen Art Gallery will follow in November, and with UTG, we are about to embark on a project that will further electrify the city centre.”
One of the first steps will involve permanently closing the slip road leading from Rosemount Viaduct to Union Terrace to make way for a new pavilion. There will also be a new walkway built to the gardens from Union Street as well as a lift installed in a new entrance building at the Burns monument.
The central lawn will be retained as a space for events and a “grand staircase” will be built.
More trees will also be planted as part of the plans.
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Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture and city centre masterplan spokeswoman, said: “I’m really pleased we’ve got to this stage. The design is a direct response to how people wanted their city to evolve. That we are ready to start work is truly momentous, not just for this generation but in terms of legacy.”
Construction contractor Balfour Beatty has been working off-site finalising the designs.
Additional survey work will be carried out at the beginning of September and hoardings will be erected around the perimeter of the gardens before the works start.
The work is expected to be completed by the summer of 2021.
Mr Lumsden said: “It’s been a long time coming, it’s pleasing to see the work actually starting on site. I think what we’ll see here is a great addition to the city centre and I’m looking forward to it opening.
“We want to bring Union Terrace Gardens back to life, we want a place where people will come and enjoy and the amount of visits will increase considerably.
“The aim is to try to get the gardens back into use as soon as possible and get people back into the city centre.”
Fellow co-leader Jenny Laing said: “I think the public will welcome that we’re now getting going because it’s such an important part of our heritage.
“Union Terrace Gardens is among the city’s best-loved places and it was vital we got this project right in every detail. The start of work is another sign of the momentum building throughout Aberdeen during a period of incredible transformation.”