Upgrade work begins as Union Street faces 'biggest change in 200 years'

The major changes to Aberdeen's main thoroughfare will help create a 'vibrant and exciting' city centre.

Work has begun on the biggest change to Aberdeen’s main thoroughfare since it was built 200 years ago.

The upgrade of Union Street has been hailed as a “major milestone” that will make the area more attractive while promoting walking and cycling.

The works include new pavements with locally-sourced granite, a road surface, and cycle lanes, and will help to create a plaza entrance to the new market building.

Aberdeen City Council co-leader councillor Ian Yuill said: “The work to Union Street central will complement the new market building and contribute to making our city centre an even more attractive place to visit.

“This investment in Union Street central, the new market building, and other initiatives such as the Council’s £1m Empty Shops Grant Scheme, all have key roles in creating a vibrant and exciting city centre for people to visit, shop, work and spend time.”

Aberdeen City Council co-leader councillor Christian Allard added: “The new high-quality streetscaping for Union Street Central is the next step to make Aberdeen’s city centre a great destination for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Aberdeen Canal Street developmentAberdeen City Council

“Union Street which is 200 years old is due a makeover – a local makeover as local and Scottish materials are being used for the streetscaping which will help the economy.”

During the works, access will continue to all shops and businesses for pedestrians, as well as access for delivery vehicles.

The work is being carried out in parallel to the works being carried out at the new market building and is due to be completed by autumn 2025.

Throughout construction, access will be given to all shops and businesses for pedestrians and delivery vehicles while one lane east-bound will be available for emergency vehicles, refuse collections and deliveries.

The taxi rank at Back Wynd will be for day and night taxis and buses will be re-routed either via the bus priority route (Market Street, Guild Street, and Bridge Street), Union Terrace or Schoolhill.

The Union Street Central area will be closed to traffic between Bridge Street and Market Street and a works site compound created in that area. Works will move east to west (from Market Street to Bridge Street) with works information and colourful hoarding surrounding the closed-off area.

The area is being split into three sections of 100m each, with each phase of work starting in the first 100m on east side (closest to Market Street) before moving on to the second section and then the third (closest to Bridge Street).

Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “We need to ensure Aberdeen is a modern, forward-thinking city and create a place people want to visit.

“We have already seen huge investments in various city centre regeneration projects – the Music Hall, the Art Gallery, MSQ, Union Terrace Gardens and Provost Skene’s House to name but a few – and this represents another step in the right direction.

“We are beginning to see real momentum in making Union Street, creating a more vibrant place to live, work, and relax. This will have huge benefits for our businesses and our people for years and decades to come.”

Bob Keiller, chairman of Our Union Street, said: “This is a huge positive step for Union Street that complements the many smaller steps that we are taking to re-energise the city centre. I have no doubt that there will be some disruption, but it will be worth it – the new market will also be a great addition.”

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “The changes about to be made to Union Street Central – not least the creation of a new £40m market building – will be transformational.

“While there will be inevitable disruption from months of construction work, it must be stressed pedestrian access will be maintained to all premises throughout the works. Union Street will be open for business.

“That message cannot be repeated loudly enough or often enough in the coming months. Aberdeen Inspired, along with other stakeholders including the city council, will take every opportunity to tell the public, here in the city and further afield, that Union Street shops, restaurants, attractions, and businesses are waiting to welcome customers. And we will all work to support businesses as Union Street is changed for the better.”

The City Council is to receive £20m from the UK Levelling Up Fund which will be used towards the development of Union Street Central and the new market building.

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