Union Street buildings set for multi-million pound make-over

Funding of over £2 million is to be made available for repairing and preserving key buildings on Union Street as part of a City Centre Masterplan project.

It comes after Aberdeen City Council was awarded £1,177,104 by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), a grant which will be match-funded by the local authority.

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The money will go towards a Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme, which focuses on restoring and bringing back into use vacant and underused historic buildings. The scheme is designed to aid sustainable economic growth, by supporting projects that develop an area’s sense of place.

Aberdeen City Council convener of the Finance, Policy and Resources committee Councillor Willie Young said: “We’re delighted that Historic Environment Scotland has recognised the Council’s commitment to Union Street.

“Conserving our heritage is part of the City Centre Masterplan’s vision and the Scheme promises to go a long way towards turning that aspiration into reality.

“The Council is already spending more than £1 million improving Union Street through Operation Union Street Rejuvenation and this new investment will give it the chance of an even brighter future.”

Some Union Street buildings have fallen into disuse, especially the upper floors, and deteriorated as a result. The money will be used for the restoration of roofs and frontages as well as the reinstatement of architectural features.

The programme of repairs will be carried out over five years through the awarding of grants to building owners, who would apply for a grant and be expected to make a contribution to the works.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES, said the funding would help breathe new life into the city centre, encourage further investment, create new employment opportunities, and boost the local tourism industry.

He said: “We’ve seen how successful this approach can be in previous schemes across the UK, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results for the historic city of Aberdeen.

“Preserving the built heritage of our town centres is a hugely important part of this, because investment in our historic environment is key to supporting improved quality of life for many people across Scotland.

“We are committed to supporting Aberdeen City Council throughout the regeneration process – not just through financial aid, but by providing expert advice and skills.”

It is estimated that more than £3 million in total could be spent improving Union Street.

Conditions will be attached to the awarding of grants for individual buildings, including a commitment to future maintenance of the properties, with a project manager recruited to oversee the work.

The programme will work alongside the Shaping Aberdeen strategy, which has regeneration as part of its focus.

Business Improvement District operator Aberdeen Inspired – which is contributing £50,000 – and Aberdeen City Heritage Trust supported the application for a CARS bid.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, which is co-leading Operation Union Street Rejuvenation, said: “It is great to see the scope of work that can now be carried out on Union Street thanks to the CARS programme. The improvement and restoration projects will make a tremendous difference to the thoroughfare.

“Aberdeen Inspired is pleased to be playing a part in the transformation of Union Street as we want to restore pride. It is brilliant to see this becoming a reality through positive partnership working and a shared sense of purpose.”

Councillor Barney Crocket, vice-chairman of Aberdeen City Heritage Trust, said: “Union Street is close to the hearts of all Aberdonians and central to the work of the City Heritage Trust.

“This initiative is a powerful step forward in preserving and developing our wonderful granite inheritance.”

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