Union Street Coalition could 'revitalize' Granite Mile in five years

Union Street Coalition could ‘revitalize’ Granite Mile in five years

A brand new process drive of specialists could possibly be fashioned to redress the state of affairs at Aberdeen’s well-known Granite Mile.

Calls have been made to type a Union Road coalition, which they are saying might stem the decline of downtown.

The concept, anticipated to revitalize the town heart inside 5 years, was put ahead at an emergency summit on Aberdeen’s essential thoroughfare.

About 170 individuals gathered within the grand ballroom of the Douglas Resort to share their concepts on methods to convey Union Road again from the brink.

Members on the Union Road summit had been invited to debate their very own concepts on the short-term answer for Aberdeen’s Excessive Road. Picture: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

There are multi-million pound plans for the world, including a £50m new market development.

However there are fears that except short-term motion is taken now, change will come too late.

1 / 4 of Union Road premises are empty

It was revealed that around 25% of commercial properties remain empty on what was once Aberdeen’s main shopping street.

FG Burnett officers counted 47 empty premises alongside the Granite Mile.

All through downtown, together with the three essential malls, there are roughly 300 retail items.

CBRE's Derren McRae estimates there are around 100 empty retail units throughout Aberdeen city centre, including shopping malls.  Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.
CBRE’s Derren McRae estimates there are round 100 empty retail items all through Aberdeen metropolis centre, together with purchasing malls. Picture: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

CBRE’s Derren McRae estimates that about 100 are vacant or have tenants who do not pay hire.

Enterprise enchancment group Aberdeen Impressed convened the summit to deal with the necessity for instant motion.

The assembly started with a robust video that includes feedback from locals concerning the decline of Union Road.

They referred to as his downfall “very unhappy”, with some saying Aberdeen had turn out to be a “ghost city”.

One professional put it bluntly, calling the Granite Mile “a little bit of asshole” to a mixture of shock and laughter within the foyer.

Aberdeen Inspired chairman Allan Henderson admits on some days he worries
Aberdeen Impressed chairman Allan Henderson admits on some days he worries concerning the “spiral of decline spiraling uncontrolled” on Union Road. Picture: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Aberdeen Impressed chairman Allan Henderson was the primary to take the stage, admitting on some days he feared “the spiral of decline was spiraling uncontrolled”.

However rallying others to mirror, he added: “Have we handed the purpose of decline? I don’t assume so.

“However we’re working out of time to relaunch our metropolis heart.”

Council urged to decide on Union Road’s imaginative and prescient – and keep on with it

Keynote speaker, professor of city collaboration Richard Laing, urged Aberdeen Metropolis Council to agree a plan for Union Road – and keep on with it.

Keynote speaker Richard Laing urged Aberdeen City Council to come up with a vision for Union Street…and then stick to it.  Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.
Keynote speaker Richard Laing urged Aberdeen Metropolis Council to give you a imaginative and prescient for Union Road…after which keep on with it. Picture: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.

The pedestrianization of the Granite Mile – from Market Road to Bridge Road – was agreed final yr.

A political tidal shift noticed the SNP and Liberal Democrats reject these plans for continued bus entry months later.

The native authority will make choices on the detailed designs for the city heart and seaside masterplan subsequent month.

It’s a £150million mission that might change the face of Aberdeen for years to return.

One thought raised by a number of audio system was the necessity to introduce completely different zones on Union Road.

Panelists advised a enterprise district on the higher finish, surrounding the Capitol and Silver Fin buildings.

Soon Shell will return to downtown – with different large firms hoping to observe.

The future of Union Street is no longer pedestrian.  Buses and taxis are allowed to return to the central section.  Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson.
The way forward for Union Road is now not pedestrian. Buses and taxis are allowed to return to the central part. Picture: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson.

Different components could possibly be developed for cultural or residential functions.

Getting individuals to dwell, work and go to the Granite Mile is more and more turning into a precedence.

Persons are shifting from transformed workplaces on its higher flooring to newer workplace buildings.

The central part, now closed to all site visitors besides buses and taxis, would concentrate on commerce and leisure.

Is the answer a Union Road Coalition?

And it’s inside this part that the Union Road Coalition would work.

Put ahead by the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, the duty drive would “spearhead the commercialization and growth” of the central part.

Coverage director Ryan Crighton advised it might appeal to a number of the high nationwide retailers to the Granite Mile inside 5 years.

Ryan Crighton, director of policy and marketing for the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, outlined plans for the Union Street Coalition.  Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.
Ryan Crighton, director of coverage and advertising and marketing for the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, outlined plans for the Union Road Coalition. Picture: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.

It will additionally “assist” native companies, presumably in trade for an fairness stake within the fledgling enterprise.

“This group can be primarily funded by the personal sector,” he mentioned.

“Ideally this might appeal to matching funding from our bodies like Scottish Enterprise, or a slice of simply transition funding, and presumably turn out to be a three way partnership with the council,” he mentioned.

The coalition would work on advertising and marketing and enterprise growth within the central stretch.

For a brokerage price, it could encourage rising impartial manufacturers to return to Aberdeen by setting them up with house owners with empty items.

It will additionally market the town in a brand new gentle: “a narrative of regeneration, a narrative of rebirth”, Mr Crighton added.

Coalition might ‘management Union Road message’

He highlighted a fast Google of Union Road that rapidly conjured up tales of city decay and crime.

He mentioned: “Controlling the message and the pictures is what we have now to do. And that is how we might appeal to new enterprise from elsewhere to Union Road.

The coalition, he advised, will even maintain funding funds to assist native companies with “excessive development potential” on Union Road.

In return for fairness within the enterprise, it might assist pay for hire and different hurdles stopping them from taking over area.

George Street shopkeeper Stuart Milne, North East Tory MSP Douglas Lumsden, hotel operator John Wigglesworth and SNP adviser Michael Hutchison are deep in conversation at the Union Street summit.  Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.
George Road shopkeeper Stuart Milne, North East Tory MSP Douglas Lumsden, lodge operator John Wigglesworth and SNP adviser Michael Hutchison are deep in dialog on the Union Road summit. Picture: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.

Enterprise specialists would additionally present mentorship, with all cash generated going again into the pot to proceed the work.

Mr Crighton concluded: “This has the potential to convey an thrilling new mixture of retail leisure, food and drinks to Union Road, showcasing the perfect of the area.

“In doing so, we might create a singular new mannequin for the excessive road, merging a fascinating mixture of the perfect and promising companies each regionally and nationally.

“As a area, we have now the entrepreneurial spirit to create a greater future for Union Road. However it can take individuals on this room, and several other hundred exterior, for that to occur.

“However I am completely sure we are able to do it – and present different components of the UK how one can regenerate a metropolis centre.”

Attraction for an apolitical inner-city czar to assist develop Union Road

Within the meantime, many voices have independently raised the necessity for a single level of contact on the developer board.

Throughout two years, Marc Cole filled the £103,000-a-year town center manager job.

He led the work on the 2015 model of the downtown grasp plan.

However when Mr Cole left in 2018, he was by no means changed.

In the meantime, Aberdeen Impressed has unveiled its personal excessive road guru to deal with the issue of Union Road’s many vacant shops.

Ian Nicholson, the Union Street guru of Aberdeen Inspired.  Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
Ian Nicholson, the Union Road guru of Aberdeen Impressed. Picture: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Seeking the “collective knowledge” required for this colossal process, Ian Nicholson was commissioned by the downtown enchancment group.

Mr. Nicholson is a “Place-Constructing Specialist” with The Vacant Outlets Academy.

It will have helped cities in Oxfordshire scale back empty items by as much as 50%.

He additionally spent greater than two years as appearing City Middle supervisor with Oxford Metropolis Council and is a former BBC radio journalist.

SNP council co-leader Alex Nicoll and Lib Dem co-leader Ian Yuill were at the emergency summit to hear how inner city shopkeepers would fix Union Street.  Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.
SNP council co-leader Alex Nicoll and Lib Dem co-leader Ian Yuill had been on the emergency summit to listen to how inside metropolis shopkeepers would repair Union Road. Picture: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.

He took notes there the place co-leaders of the council Alex Nicoll and Ian Yuill, accompanied by metropolis official Richard Sweetnam.

Afterwards, the chief of the Liberal Democrat group, Mr Yuill, mentioned: “We’ve come to listen to to hear.

“Our partnership is dedicated to working with anybody thinking about making our downtown a greater place.

“We will obtain this. There have been some very fascinating concepts that could possibly be realized rapidly.

“Others – just like the downtown and seaside grasp plan – that can take longer.”

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