City Centre Masterplan Comments

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Comments from Kingswells Community Council

Please consider the following comments when developing the City Centre Master Plan.

General comments

There is little point making the proposed improvements to the City Centre when Union Street is in a poor state of repair. ACC need to generate a Bylaw, to allow them to ensure that buildings are kept in a good state of repair and free of any unplanned vegetation.

Drainage from the down pipes on buildings across pavements to the roadside need major repair. Perhaps, ACC should take on the responsibility to maintain these.

Pedestrianisation

There seems to be a big plan to pedestrianise many streets in the city centre. Before any of these areas is taken forward, there should be an assessment of the overall impact of all these streets being closed to traffic.

Alternative routes through the city need to be identified. The concept that everyone will take public transport is naive. The bus service in Aberdeen does not allow efficient access to many parts of Aberdeen. The service needs to be improved before people can realistically consider alternatives to the car. The bus service may require a subsidy to allow good services to be provided to all areas of the City. If the only way into the city-centre is by bus then all areas need to have a good service whether this is economically viable or not.

The introduction of new businesses and new hotels requires better access to and through the city centre. Pedestrianisation on the scale considered will have significant implications to Aberdeen, and these need to be considered fully before any of the schemes reach the planning application stage. Aberdeen has been developed using “ostrich” planning – where it is hoped the problems will solve themselves – this needs to stop. Aberdeen needs solutions to the problems before any of the component applications is approved – and if there is no solution, the whole project should be cancelled – no more planning by stealth.

The concept of no access to the train or bus stations by car is not acceptable.

A balance needs to be reached on the extent of pedestrianized areas. Too much and the result may be to chase car owners to out-of-town shopping areas. Those affected may be people from the Shire and others who are served by a poor bus service.

Care needs to be taken in the design to avoid no‑go zones like those created in Ayr.

When George Street was pedestrianized it allowed bus access, but this was changed when it was realized that a mix of buses and people does not work. It looks like the current proposal wants to repeat previous mistakes. Union Street is the hub of the Aberdeen bus service and has a bus a minute travelling up and down the street. Is it really possible to have a pedestrianized zone that includes buses?

In the illustrations, the footpath on Union Street is widened to create more space for pedestrians. This is a good idea. However, it appears that the extra space is wasted by having seating arranged at right angles to the road. This effectively creates a barrier to the natural flow of pedestrians walking along the length of the street. A lot more thought and care in the design is required to make the most of the opportunities created by this master plan.

There is a saying that time is money – this is not strictly true. Money can be replaced, but time cannot. People using an inefficient bus service are wasting their lives. Bus journeys can take significantly more time, and the wasted time cannot be reclaimed. It is lost forever.

Connecting Union Street to the bus and train stations

The stairs in the Trinity Centre leading to Guild Street should be upgraded to an escalator and possibly with lift access for wheel chair.

Markets

The indoor market in Market Street needs a facelift.

Outdoor markets should be located in pedestrian areas like Belmont Street and Castlegate to minimise disruption to others

Union Terrace Gardens

Better access to the Gardens is required from Union Street for disabled members of the public. Perhaps by an elevator. The proposed access from Belmont Street is not required. With better access from a pedestrianized Union Street and Schoolhill there is no need for direct access from Belmont Street.

Need for facilities

It is unclear if a needs assessment has been performed for the various facilities on the wish list. Recently there have been a large number of hotels and offices identified for development. Do we know how many Aberdeen needs, how many are in the pipeline with other developments. The City Centre Master Plan should deliver facilities not included in the Local Development Plan. It needs to be more adventurous than providing more glass boxes.

Golden Square

Golden Square is too small to provide useful green space. The existing road must be maintained for service vehicles, so the only space available is the centre circle. Loosing city centre parking is unacceptable.

Rose Street and Chapel Street

Pedestrianising part of Rose Street and Chapel Street does not provide a significant benefit in terms of pedestrian access. Removal of these roads from the road network will remove a major North South access across Union Street. This is unacceptable. There is a car park in Chapel Street and access to this is essential to allow car reduction from other parts of the City Centre.

Re-designation of Use of City Centre Roads

The map that indicates the re-designation of roads is not clear as it does not show many road names. Consequently, it has not been possible to comment on this aspect of the Master plan.

City Centre Parking

The amount of city centre parking should be controlled going forward, but it should not be reduced from current levels. Any planned closure of parking areas needs to be replaced by new alternative areas. The Master plan suggests that car use should be discouraged by increasing the cost of parking. No account is made for people who do not have alternative options to the car. Journeys from the Shire and areas not adequately covered by the bus service may only be feasible by car.

Conclusion

Gathering views form some members of the Community Council was not possible. There was a view that this process is a waste of time. They don’t listen!!!! There is no point!!!!

Please consider the points made. This is a good opportunity to make a difference to Aberdeen. Please don’t waste it.

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