LDA seeks to revamp Aberdeen Union Terrace Gardens

Proposals for a £20 million revitalisation of Union Terrace Gardens (UTG), a Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) project are subject to a public engagement exercise running until December 9.

The designs for UTG have been drawn up by landscape design consultancy, LDA Design, based on concepts in the CCMP.

Features include:

  New accessible walkway route into the gardens from Union Street and lift access into the lower level of the gardens through a new entrance building on Union Street

• Lift access from Union Terrace into the upper level of the gardens through a new entrance building on Union Terrace at the existing Burns Monument

• New disabled parking spaces on Union Terrace directly adjacent to the new accessible walkway routes into the gardens

• Retaining the central lawn space as a flexible space for large scale gathering and events, and a new entrance plaza opposite His Majesty’s Theatre to accommodate smaller scale events

• A new café pavilion opposite His Majesty’s Theatre

• Retaining and repairing the existing granite balustrading to the perimeter of the gardens

• Reinstating the ‘grand staircase’ as a central part of the new accessible route into the gardens from Rosemount Viaduct

• Retaining  maximum number of existing trees as possible

Aberdeen City Council leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: "I am delighted with the proposals that LDA Design has brought forward for Union Terrace Gardens as part of our City Centre Masterplan.

"LDA was tasked with improving access, amenity and activity while conserving UTG’s rich heritage – what residents asked for during a consultation on the Masterplan itself.

"These proposals respect the unique character of the Gardens while making the space more usable for all. I would urge all residents to share their views so the LDA can refine the design and ensure we get the best result for everyone.

"Union Terrace Gardens represents a glorious gift from the past and in turn can be our gift to future generations. It is ours to nurture."

Deputy Council leader Marie Boulton, who chairs the cross-party City Centre Regeneration Board, said: "These proposals promise to enhance the city’s green heart as place to relax and enjoy.

"LDA Design has presented us with a vision we believe everyone can unite behind. They have taken as their starting point priorities spelled during the Masterplan consultation, in which thousands of people participated.

"It became very clear that UTG was important to residents as a garden space, one that would require sensitive handling but also significant interventions to make it a place for all.

"LDA Design has responded magnificently to those wishes and challenges, honouring UTG’s character and setting while offering imaginative new ways to transform the Gardens and the Denburn Valley."

The proposals have been costed at approximately £20 million and if approved will be funded from the existing City Centre Masterplan budget, with a completion target date of autumn 2019.

Feedback gathered during the public engagement exercise will be used by the design team to inform the drawing up of detailed plans for UTG, with a report is expected to go to Full Council in March, 2017.

Kirstin Taylor, Project Director, LDA Design, said: "Our aim is to make the Gardens everyone’s favourite all-year-round destination.

"The proposals enhance what is there, keeping as many trees as possible and providing a rich new planting scheme.

"Fine features such as the granite balustrading will be repaired, and the ‘grand staircase’ reinstated.

"We propose easier and more inviting access with new raised walks which allow for longer views and a gradual descent, and new disabled parking and lifts into the lower areas of the Gardens.

"We are proposing a beautiful lighting installation as a beacon, and new lighting for the monuments and viaduct and the arches to animate the upper terrace.

"The Gardens could be a lively cultural hub and our proposals include flexible spaces for events with an informal amphitheatre, and new community garden space. New facilities and more activities will make them feel safer."

Neil Mattinson, Board Director, LDA Design, said: "The community’s ongoing participation is key to the success of the Gardens.

"People have been very receptive to the types of positive changes raised while developing the proposals to date.  

"The UTG activation event in November was popular – it offered new ways to engage with the Gardens and gave people the chance to consider the space afresh.

"We have taken on board a wide range of views and challenges identified by locals.  We will continue to take on board views to inform the detailed development of proposals which we will work on in the New Year.

"Our aim is a balanced approach that provides something for everyone."

Priorities identified by the public and stakeholders during the Masterplan consultation were the basis for the proposals:

1. Preserving the green space

2. Accessibility

3. Create events space

4. Improve facilities

5. Safety

6. Heritage features

The proposals seek to preserve and enhance the green space of the gardens by:

• New, enhanced tree and shrub planting that is rich in biodiversity and creates new wildlife habitats

• Retaining the maximum number of existing trees as possible, removing only those in poor health or quality

• Replacing any existing trees to be removed (due to poor health/quality) with new mature specimen trees

• Retaining and reinterpreting the ‘floral crest’ as a richly planted garden route from Rosemount Viaduct into the gardens

• Retaining the large central lawn space as a place for gathering and events

• A community garden to the edge of the space adjacent to the railway line

The proposals seek to improve the accessibility of the gardens by:

• New accessible walkway route into the gardens from Union Street

• Lift access from Union Street into the lower level of the gardens through a new entrance building on Union Street

• Lift access from Union Terrace into the upper level of the gardens through a new entrance building on Union Terrace at the existing Burns Monument

• New accessible garden route into the lower level of the gardens from Rosemount Viaduct

• A level access route into the lower level of the gardens at the rear of His Majesty’s Theatre through the existing Rosemount Viaduct Archway

• New disabled parking spaces on Union Terrace directly adjacent to the new accessible walkway routes into the gardens

The proposals seek to create a series of flexible spaces throughout the gardens for hosting a wide range of type and scale of events. These include:

• Retaining the central lawn space as a flexible space for large scale gathering

and events

• New entrance plaza opposite His Majesty’s Theatre to accommodate smaller scale events

• Two accessible viewing platforms which provide elevated events spaces for smaller scale events

• Seating along the new accessible route from Rosemount Viaduct to act as an informal ‘amphitheatre’ space to view events in the lower lawn area

• Provision of metered water and power points throughout the gardens to provide necessary supply for events

The proposals seek to create a range of new facilities within the gardens providing facilities for play, community growing, education, toilet provision and places to eat and drink. These include:

• Upgrading of the existing Victorian Toilets on Union Terrace for a new use

• Potential café and gallery space at the Burns Monument and within the existing arches

• A new café pavilion opposite His Majesty’s Theatre

• Upgrading of the existing ‘bothy’ as a space for park maintenance teams to store equipment and utilise as an education and training space

• Provision of water and power supplies throughout the gardens for events

• Provision of opportunities for both formal and informal play within the gardens

• A new community garden space adjacent to the railway

In addition to creating new facilities to increase activity during the day and evening, the proposals seek to further improve safety with new lighting levels throughout. This includes:

• Improved lighting to the new accessible walkways into the gardens

• Creation of a new entrance building on Union Street, providing an activity hub that overlooks the space in the day and evening

• Lighting installation within the arches to animate the upper terrace and increase the sense of safety and security along this edge

• A major new lighting installation within the gardens to act as a beacon to attract footfall into and around the gardens

The proposals seek to celebrate the existing heritage features within the gardens by:

• Retaining and repairing the existing granite balustrading to the perimeter

of the gardens

• Reinstating the ‘grand staircase’ as a central part of the new accessible route into the gardens from Rosemount Viaduct

• Reusing the existing granite steps, walls and coping materials as part of the new interventions within the scheme

• Retaining the existing monuments to the edges of the gardens, giving them a new, enhanced setting

• Creating new interventions within the arches which are ‘lightweight structures’ that express the heritage fabric of the gardens

• Utilising lighting to celebrate heritage features such as the arches, monuments and viaduct


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