Alex Salmond slates councillors for scotching £140m City Garden Project

Aberdeen city councillors who abandoned the £140m City Garden Project this week have been condemned by Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond.

A proposed £140m City Garden Project has been abandoned by Aberdeen councillors (image: Keppie Design)
A proposed £140m City Garden Project has been abandoned by Aberdeen councillors (image: Keppie Design)

Salmond weighed into the debate after councillors voted down the hugely controversial project to raise Union Terrace Gardens to street level with a series of ramped walkways and raised flower beds.

Salmond said the 'no' vote was "deeply disappointing" and councillors should "hang their heads in shame" for rejecting a design that won a 'yes' vote in a public referendum in spring. The council will focus instead on other regeneration schemes.

"I think it’s deeply disappointing," said Salmond. "Once you put a matter to the people you should accept the result and I really think councillors who voted against the popular will in the referendum really should hang their heads in shame.

"Aberdeen and the north-east of Scotland as a community has been so successful because it has always grasped the future, it has seen the opportunity. This was the most amazing opportunity for a revitalisation of Aberdeen city centre," he told STV.

But council leader Barney Crockett called the City Garden Project, by landscape architect Olin Studio, Keppie Design and US architect Diller Scofidio & Renfro, divisive and said it never won the whole-hearted acceptance of locals.

"I am certain we can make widespread and significant improvements to the city centre that are affordable and sustainable, and which do not require us to make massive borrowings," he said of Aberdeen, which is to be UK City of Culture in 2017.

The project has continually split opinion, with Manchester United manager and former Aberdeen boss Sir Alex Ferguson backing a project denounced as deluded in its vision by pop star and fellow Scot Annie Lennox (HW, 22 June).

The council said it would switch its regeneration focus to refurbishing Aberdeen Art Gallery, redeveloping the site of the council’s former HQ and making the city centre better connected for pedestrians.

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