A contractor will not be appointed to redevelop Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens until March, the Evening Express can reveal today.
It’s emerged a decision on the firm to transform the sunken city centre park will be made at Aberdeen City Council’s next budget meeting, sparking concerns the targeted completion date of 2020 is now in doubt.
Opposition leaders have demanded answers after “months of uncertainty”, adding that the ruling Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and independent administration owe the city a “massive apology”.
Alex Nicoll, the SNP group’s city growth spokesman, said: “After months of uncertainty we are now being told by the administration, with only the vaguest of detail, that a decision on Union Terrace Gardens now won’t actually be made until at least March.
“Given that the project was due to be completed by July this year it is clear that the administration once again owes the people of Aberdeen a huge apology on another key project – this time before a spade has even hit the ground.
“With the delays the project has already experienced I imagine that folk across the city will be drawing their own conclusions as to whether it actually remains on budget, perhaps the administration will clarity this vitally important detail.”
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Evening Express newsletter
The project – initially priced at £22 million – was planned to be completed by July, but that has been pushed back to summer 2020.
Douglas Lumsden, co-leader of the council, said: “As the administration has said for some time now, the Union Terrace Gardens upgrade remains a priority and the decision to proceed and establish a budget will be made at the council’s budget meeting on March 5.
“The preferred contractor will have their tender in with a price. It will be up to each individual group to see whether they go ahead with it or not. Then it would go back to the contractor to award the tender.
“The public will be watching Councillor Nicol and the SNP to see if within their budget they continue to support the upgrade of Union Terrace Gardens given the SNP now admit it is a key project for the city.”
LDA Design unveiled its designs for the park in 2016, which include water features, a golden “halo” suspended above the central grass area, shops and cafes in the arches and community gardens.
The plans were granted final approval by the local authority’s planning committee in March last year.