Our Union Street reveals its five action areas to rejuvenate the Granite Mile

Bob Keiller

THE COMMUNITY campaign to revitalise Aberdeen’s Union Street has set out how it will regenerate, repopulate and reinvigorate the Granite Mile.

The Our Union Street organisation, led by entrepreneur and former FTSE100 chief executive Bob Keiller, was set-up in March to arrest soaring vacancy rates and plummeting footfall.

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Since then, the group has received over 10,000 ideas from the public and engaged with hundreds of local groups and organisations to plot a new future for the street.

Those 10,000 ideas became 17 themes – and today those themes have become five action areas, which have been detailed in a new 26-page whitepaper.

Our Union Street is seeking to:

Brighten the street: This is about getting the street clean then bringing extra colour and interest to it.

Fill the units: Create and market a compelling offer then attract great businesses to occupy them and bring them back to life.

Use the space: Use the empty shop windows as a fascinating and often changing street gallery that attracts people to the street and brightens up empty retail units.

Tell the story: Creating a single reliable source of information about what’s happening in the city centre and creating lots of attractions and events.

Engage the people: Recruiting and deploying the volunteers required to deliver the four action areas above.

Efforts to clean the street will commence later this month, starting with the St Nicholas Kirkyard on October 28th, and members of the public are being urged to register via the Our Union Street website to take part.

The group has also helped pull together what will be one of the most generous packages of incentives available anywhere in the UK for incoming businesses, including up to two years rent and rate free.

Mr Keiller said: “We are building an army of volunteers and skilled trades people who are willing to give their time to clean up the street, and very soon you will see them deployed around the city centre in distinctive purple vests.

“We have also launched one of the best incentive packages available anywhere in the UK, meaning that new occupiers taking on long-term vacant units will benefit from up to two years rent and business rate free under a support package drawn-up and partly funded by Our Union Street.

“We know the leads won’t come to us, and that we need to go find them ourselves – so next month we will be commissioning a new website and digital marketing effort which will, literally, sell Aberdeen and Union Street to business owners locally and all over the UK.

“We have a compelling story to tell, as tens of millions of pounds is invested to improve our city centre and reshape it for generations to come.”

In parallel with the five action areas, the group will continue to explore issues around taxi provision, cleaning the upper levels of buildings and identifying ways to get more people living on Union Street.

Mr Keiller added: “We need more people to live and work in the city centre to ensure it remains vibrant and attractive for the long-term.

“However, before we can focus on these areas, we need to address the immediate issues that the public have told us matter most to them. And that is what we will do.”

Our Union Street is a community-led, not-for-profit organisation which is seeking to restore pride and prosperity to Union Street, which sits at the heart of Aberdeen City Centre.

It has been set-up by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Aberdeen Inspired, Aberdeen City Council and Opportunity North East, with additional support from Shell, which recently relocated to the street.

AB15 Limited – owned and run by Mr Keiller and his business partner Derrick Thomson – is also funding the organisation, and both businessmen have committed to running the organisation free of charge.

Our Union Street has its headquarters in Union Terrace Gardens, from which it will soon co-ordinate a volunteer-led clean up of the street, alongside a strategic marketing effort to attract new businesses and projects to the street.

Visit www.ourunionstreet.com to learn more.

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