Business owners on Jopp’s Lane say Aberdeen City Council’s proposed masterplan for George Street could be “catastrophic” for local firms.
Speaking at a full council meeting last week, Rachel Mearns of Aberdeen Academy of Performing Arts said businesses in the area had not been included in consultations about the proposal.
Under the plan, the already narrow Jopp’s Lane could have its pavements expanded making it difficult for vehicles to access the area.
Councillors were due to discuss the near 100-page masterplan to make George Street “bustling and vibrant” during last week’s heated meeting but it was delayed to a future date.
Addressing members at the Town House, Ms Mearns argued the proposal “would not work whatsoever”.
She fears that her loyal customer base of almost 400 families will be put off attending the dance school if they can’t access it easily.
Rachel told the chamber she had been in touch with Police Scotland.
They told her any vehicles forced to reverse back on to John Street as a result of the change would be breaking the highway code.
“We must have two-way or space for cars to pass,” she stated.
“Just the consequences road-wise from that for us would be catastrophic, we would lose business,” she said.
The emotional dance instructor added: “I understand there is a plan to reduce cars in the city centre, but what cost is this going to be to local businesses?
“If our customers cannot access us in a hassle-free way, they are not going to come.”
Ms Mearns also took aim at the timing of the masterplan discussion, as it was added to the agenda just as the local authority launched a consultation on its budget proposals.
She believes the cash that would be used transforming the area could be better spent elsewhere.
“Is it right that we are possibly away to spend lots of money implementing this plan where other parts such as children’s music services, libraries and pools could reach a wider amount of people in the city?
“They should be catered for rather than just changing the roads which might potentially damage businesses.”
But the dance academy principal did welcome some parts of the masterplan including more CCTV and improved lighting.
She explained: “We want the city centre to be rejuvenated and a great place to be but I just feel in these times, throwing up hurdles for us isn’t the way to do it.”
Ms Mearns ended her speech by passionately pleading for the council to include local firms in any future discussions of the masterplan.
Meanwhile, Elane Colville has been running vintage clothing shop The Closet for the last 18 years.
The business was founded in 1980 in the Woolmanhill area but later moved to Jopp’s Lane.
Ms Colville is “all for change” in the area as she believes it has been “overlooked” in the past.
But she admitted she wouldn’t have known about the George Street masterplan if it hadn’t been for Ms Mearns.
“I’m really happy this has been included in the budget, but to think they would use funds to narrow a street that is already narrow seems a bit crazy to us,” she said.
“When the giant refuse lorries come, we’ve really got to get out of the way.
“If it becomes narrower it will become a no-go zone.”
However Ms Colville heaped praise on George Street, saying its “vibrant” neighbourhood reminds her of the time she spent living in London.
“For George Street to get love and attention is great.
“All of us are happy for change but targeted positive change is what we want.
“Just keeping it cleaner, the bins spill over and get really full especially around the food places and that attracts seagulls.
“People find it off-putting walking through rubbish.
“I’m out there everyday brushing the pavement, scrubbing, weeding and cleaning the windows.”
But she isn’t so worried about the proposed changes to traffic access.
“For me it’s not a big deal because people know they can’t park outside my business.
“But those taking the car couldn’t even turn their vehicle and would have to reverse on to John Street which is not ideal and even illegal.”
Ms Colville even noted the change would hit her personally as she added: “It would make it less easier for me because I drive to work everyday.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country