Biggest change in 200-plus years to Aberdeen’s Union Street starts today

Left to Right: Ewen Fowlie, operations director, hub North Scotland; Kirstie Golightly, public liaison manager, Morrison Construction; Rod Buchan, contracts manager, Morrison Construction, council co-leader, Councillor Ian Yuill; council co-leader, Councillor Christian Allard; Bob Keiller, chairman, Our Union Street; and Adrian Watson, chief executive, Aberdeen Inspired, in Union Street Central.

CITY leaders today hailed the start of works upgrading a section of Aberdeen’s main thoroughfare of Union Street as a major milestone to revitalising the Granite Mile – the biggest change to the street since it was built more than 200 years ago.

The works to the Union Street Central area – between the Market Street and Bridge Street junctions – will make it more attractive and vibrant while promoting walking and cycling as part of the City Centre and Beach Masterplan. The works include new pavements with locally-sourced granite, a road surface, and cycle lanes, and will help to create a plaza entrance to the new market building.

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During the works, access will continue to all shops and businesses for pedestrians, as well as access for delivery vehicles.

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Ian Yuill said: “The work to Union Street central will complement the new market building and contribute to making our city centre an even more attractive place to visit.

“This investment in Union Street central, the new market building, and other initiatives such as the Council’s £1million Empty Shops Grant Scheme, all have key roles in creating a vibrant and exciting city centre for people to visit, shop, work and spend time.”

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Christian Allard said: “The new high-quality streetscaping for Union Street Central is the next step to make Aberdeen’s city centre a great destination for residents and visitors to enjoy. 

“Union Street which is 200 years old is due a makeover – a local makeover as local and Scottish materials are being used for the streetscaping which will help the economy.”

Russell Borthwick, Chief Executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “We need to ensure Aberdeen is a modern, forward-thinking city and create a place people want to visit.

“We have already seen huge investments in various city centre regeneration projects – the Music Hall, the Art Gallery, MSQ, Union Terrace Gardens and Provost Skene’s House to name but a few – and this represents another step in the right direction.

“We are beginning to see real momentum in making Union Street, creating a more vibrant place to live, work, and relax. This will have huge benefits for our businesses and our people for years and decades to come.”

Bob Keiller, chairman of Our Union Street, said: “This is a huge positive step for Union Street that complements the many smaller steps that we are taking to re-energise the city centre. I have no doubt that there will be some disruption, but it will be worth it – the new market will also be a great addition.”

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “The changes about to be made to Union Street Central – not least the creation of a new £40million market building – will be transformational.

“While there will be inevitable disruption from months of construction work, it must be stressed pedestrian access will be maintained to all premises throughout the works. Union Street will be open for business.

“That message cannot be repeated loudly enough or often enough in the coming months. Aberdeen Inspired, along with other stakeholders including the city council, will take every opportunity to tell the public, here in the city and further afield, that Union Street shops, restaurants, attractions, and businesses are waiting to welcome customers. And we will all work to support businesses as Union Street is changed for the better.”

The City Council is to receive £20million from the UK Levelling Up Fund which will be used towards the development of Union Street Central and the new market building. 

UK Government Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young said: “I’m delighted that the regeneration of the Granite Mile and transformation of Aberdeen city centre is underway, made possible by £20m of levelling up funding from the UK Government.

“These changes will make a huge difference to residents and local businesses as well as strengthen Aberdonians’ pride in their city. I look forward to visiting when this brilliant levelling up project is completed.”

Aberdeen City Council’s development partner for the project is hub North Scotland and operations director Ewen Fowlie said: “These works will help transform the city centre and we are working with businesses and residents to minimise the impact during construction.”

The works, which are being carried out by Morrison Construction in parallel to the works being carried out at the new market building, include several mitigations for shops and businesses in the area.

The mitigations include:

Access to all shops and businesses for pedestrians;

Access for delivery vehicles

One lane east-bound will be available at all times for emergency vehicles, refuse collections, and deliveries. Existing business loading restrictions will continue no loading 8am to 9.30am, 12.30pm to 2.30pm, 4.30pm to 6pm.

The taxi rank in Back Wynd will be for day and night taxis;

Buses will be re-routed either via the bus priority route (Market Street, Guild Street, and Bridge Street), Union Terrace, or Schoolhill – see bus company websites for information on individual routes.

The Union Street Central area will be closed to traffic between Bridge Street and Market Street and a works site compound created in that area. Works will move east to west (from Market Street to Bridge Street) with works information and colourful hoarding surrounding the closed-off area. 

The area is being split into three sections of 100m each, with each phase of work starting in the first 100m on east side (closest to Market Street) before moving on to the second section and then the third (closest to Bridge Street).

The works for the first few months will include:

trial holes dug in the road to find exact locations of utilities;

removing all street furniture on the south side then the north side;

removing the road surface;

installing drains, gully traps, ducting, and kerbing. 

There will also be works carried out by utility companies at the same time replacing and upgrading existing utilities when the road is opened up.

Works are due to be completed, depending on what is uncovered by utility companies, weather, and world-wide supply-chain availability of materials, in autumn 2025.

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