Survey establishes current occupancy for Union Street

Richard Noble (FG Burnett)

PROPERTY Consultants FG Burnett have been carrying out their 6 monthly health check of ground floor occupation levels on Union Street, Aberdeen for the past three and a half years. The latest statistics have just been filed and the headline outcome is that vacancy levels remain unchanged in the 6 months since February 2023. There remain 43 vacant units on Union Street, equating to 23% of the total. The assumption is that if a unit is not trading then it is treated as vacant and that assumption includes units that are fitting out but not, as yet, open for business. 

That all sounds a little mundane but like everything else the devil is in the detail and whilst the headline figure is the same, changes within the 189 units included in the survey have indeed taken place. 

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On the North Side of the Street the GSLP Estate Agency unit has become vacant and VPZ vaping have come out of 226 Union Street. A void approaching Union Terrace has secured an occupier in the shape of Cleavin Barber Club. Towards the West End, The Whisky Shop have expanded into the former Shelter unit with their previous unit now being refurbished for marketing purposes.

Activity on the South side includes Caffè Nero vacating their unit at the corner of Market Street and Dizzy’s, Poundworld and Greggs taking up residence. 

We have noted that it is taking occupiers, especially independents longer to get fitted out and open for trade. This could be connected to fitting out costs and the availability of specialist fittings and contractors.  Securing staff continues to be a challenge, particularly in the food and beverage sector. We are aware of units that are currently being fitted and which should open soon. These will be captured in the next survey. The hope would be that new voids do not cancel out the positive news. 

Richard Noble, Managing Director at FG Burnett commented on the latest figures: 

“We all want to see swift improvement in the fortunes of Union Street and although these most recent figures suggest that nothing much is happening there have been a number of changes in the last survey period.  We know that deals have been done on a number of units currently showing as vacant and its positive that we continue to take regular enquiries in relation to the stock we have on our books.

The very recent launch of the Aberdeen City Council Union Street Empty Shops Grant Scheme is to be commended and we are ensuring that all enquiring parties are made aware of the grants available towards physical and reconfiguration works. I see this scheme as attempting to bridge a cost gap when a landlord and potential tenant have done their best but need a little external assistance financially. It is important that the City Council receive applications for these grants. The pot is £500000 and the scheme is open until 31st March 2025. 

The ‘Our Union Street’ campaign continues to gather momentum and it will be interesting to see how their initiatives develop, this organisation has the potential to make a significant impact including in relation to the restoration of Civic Pride in our City Centre. Although very welcome, these initiatives should not detract from the essential need for a quality public realm for the length of Union Street including robust public safety and cleansing regimes.

It is apparent that the now completed Union Terrace Gardens is being well received, an oasis in the heart of the City where regular and varied events should be the order of the day. We are very pleased to have been involved in the marketing of the new Union Terrace Gardens Pavilions. Two of these iconic buildings are now let and we are taking enquiries for the last remaining opportunity.”  

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