ONE of the UK’s leading retail experts has hit out over the number of empty shops on Union Street, claiming Marischal Square shouldn’t be going ahead.
TV presenter Mary Portas blasted the state of Aberdeen’s main street, saying it felt “neglected” after a visit to the city.
But in the wake of Ms Portas’ comments, Aberdeen City Council today revealed it will contact the retail guru to use her expertise as part of the ongoing development of Marischal Square and the City Centre Masterplan.
Ms Portas said: “What was there was the mix of shops in retail that just felt they were filling in and, according to a lot of people that I spoke to, had been a historically thriving, great high street.”
She added: “The shops that were boarded up and the amount of charity shops and pound shops there were meant it didn’t need me to be interviewing anyone to understand this was a street that was feeling very neglected.”
Two office buildings, a hotel, and seven restaurants and bars are to be part of the £107 million Marischal Square project.
But Ms Portas said: “Why would you disgrace the high street for building something completely new. To me it doesn’t mean economical sense and social sense and for what I have seen and the responses of people from Aberdeen, it’s something they don’t want either.”
City council finance convener Willie Young said: “We are going to deliver 25 years of projects for the city.
“Marischal Square complements what we’re doing with the City Centre Masterplan.
“I think it’s unfair to look at Marischal Square in isolation.
“We are going to contact Mary to see how she can help us. We are trying to make Aberdeen a better place by providing employment.
“She has got something to offer and we need to use her expertise.”