Four businesses helped already by Union Street Empty Shops Action Plan

Union Street Aberdeen

FOUR business including a fashion boutique, a coffee takeaway, a watch retailer, and a restaurant/takeaway have been given a boost thanks to the Council’s Union Street Empty Shops Action Plan.

The businesses have been awarded money from the Union Street Empty Shops Grant Scheme, which is a key part of the plan, with a total allocation of £140,000 and has also leveraged £1.07m in additional private investment. An update on the Action Plan was approved at the Finance and Resources Committee today (13 March 2024). 

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Committee convener Councillor Alex McLellan said: “The Union Street Empty Shops Grant Scheme, which offers match-funded grants of up to £35,000 to help bring vacant units back into use, has been incredibly popular and will help to provide a boost to Union Street.

“I am pleased to see businesses opening up on Union Street which have made use of the grant scheme, and I wish them all the best for the future.

“Aberdeen City Council has committed a further £500,000 to the Union Street Empty Shops Grant Scheme – bringing the total investment up to £1 million – given the level of interest.

The report to committee said since the start of 2024, momentum for the Union Street Empty Shops Grant Scheme has continued to build and a further nine applications have been received and if approved, total allocation will rise to about £455,000.

Reflecting the demand and success of the scheme to date, Council approved an additional £500,000 for the grant scheme and extended it into 2025/26 at last Wednesday’s Budget meeting.

The report to committee said Union Street Empty Shops Action Plan, which was approved in December 2022, highlighted the success of the plan in reducing the number of vacant shops on Union Street.

The report shows that the number of vacant units on Union Street decreased from 47 in September 2022 to 37 in February 2024. The city centre footfall also increased by 17.8% in 2023, boosted by cultural events and cruise ship arrivals.

The Union Street Empty Shops Grant Scheme, which launched in July 2023, offers match-funded grants of up to £35,000 to new tenants or landlords to support physical works required for new uses of vacant units.

Partnerships with city centre stakeholders to deliver activity in line with the Action Plan have been formed with Our Union Street and continue with Aberdeen Inspired.

The Union Street Empty Shops Action Plan also included structured interventions for consideration around programme areas including:

  • Distinctive Aberdeen including provision for pop-up traders which has been facilitated by the Trinity Centre;
  • Culture and Heritage where officers from Archives, Gallery and Museums are working with Our Union Street volunteers, sharing access to resources, images, research information and items from our collections to create engaging displays in vacant shop frontages, and local artists enquiring in relation to city centre units have been signposted to Outer Spaces who take on empty units on a temporary basis and offer the space to artists and art organisations;
  • Net Zero Union Street including green-roofed bus shelters;
  • Enterprising Union Street which has enabled Business Gateway to have a location on Union Street;
  • Enabling Delivery where an Aberdeen City Council internal Union Street Cross-Service Working Group has been established to facilitate knowledge-sharing and enable a ‘bigger picture’ to be built of the situation on Union Street in terms of vacancy rates, property conditions, ongoing and planned works and developer interests.

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