Council planners back proposals to expand Bon Accord and St Nicholas centres

A major redevelopment of an Aberdeen shopping complex has been backed by council planners.

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The owners of Bon Accord and St Nicholas centres have applied to expand the facility out to George Street.

Included in the proposals would be an extension of around 8,500 sq m, which would include shops, offices and restaurants, food outlets and a roof over part of George Street.

A 170-bed hotel and 50 flats have also been proposed for the site.

City council planners have urged councillors to approve the scheme next week, which they say will enhance the “vitality and viability” of this area of the city centre.

However, they have recommended the development be approved conditionally and to withhold consent until developer obligations and affordable housing provision is agreed.

The development would be split into three distinct blocks, with one located on Loch Street on the site of a former soup kitchen, now housing Jo Malone.

As part of the development of this block, Jo Malone would be relocated closer to the entrance to the Loch Street car park.

The former Co-op supermarket, Santander bank, Balaclava Bar and two other smaller vacant retail units would also be flattened to make way for new shops and a hotel.

A third block would cover areas of car parking and yard space next to Crooked Lane, along with three retail units on St Andrew Street.

A total of nine objections have been lodged against the development with one of support submitted by business organisation Aberdeen Inspired.

The neighbouring Robert Gordon’s College (RGC) has said it has no objection to the principle of the redevelopment and expansion of the centre, but did raise concerns over the impact of the development on Crooked Lane.

The school said the route is a “key route” for parents dropping off pupils on Schoolhill and has the potential to “detrimentally impact on the operations of our client”.

Their statement, composed by Halliday Fraser Munro, said: “We do not consider that the character and scale of the area will be able to successfully accommodate the road upgrades and scale of development proposed.

“The additional development as proposed on Crooked Lane and St Andrew Street and the associated activities arising will also result in conflicts with the substantial numbers of RGC pupils using the gate at the corner of Crooked Lane and St Andrew Street.”

The school adds that increased traffic and pedestrian use in that area could potentially impact on the establishment’s Category ‘A’ listed boundary wall.

However, Historic Environment Scotland said it had no input to make on the impact on the A-listed building.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, supported the proposals on behalf of the organisation.

In his letter, he said: “The proposal is entirely in keeping with the strategic direction of the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan, our collective commitment to seeing our city centre develop and grow, making it a destination of choice for those who wish to work, live or visit.

“The proposed development also meets the core objectives of Aberdeen Inspired, which essentially looks to see increased footfall and dwell time in our city centre.

“I feel this ambitious project will not only achieve this, but enhance this area of the city centre in general, which is certainly to be welcomed – a view shared by several local businesses that my team have communicated with over the past few weeks.”

Caroline Bridge, Bon Accord asset manager, said: “We are pleased that the council officer has recommended the proposals for approval.

“The plans represent an exciting step forward in our project and will bring many benefits to visitors to Aberdeen city centre, as well as those who call the North-east home.”

A separate application for a £2.2 million seven-screen cinema and leisure hub has already been granted planning approval.

Members of the city council’s planning committee will vote on the development on Thursday.

Evening Express
17th August 2017