There is a quiet revolution taking place in Aberdeen. Unless you have been closely following the increasingly regular press coverage of the planning and progress of this seismic shift, you might be unaware of just how exciting the changes underway are. The impact of what is essentially the greatest regeneration project the city has ever seen will be enormous and set in motion a series of events which will guarantee an even greater quality of life in Aberdeen, as well as our future economy, for years to come.
Recently, Marc Cole, the director of the City Centre Masterplan, talked about the potential for £1 billion of investment for the capital build projects which make up the 49-project programme over the next 25 years. He has been charged with delivering sweeping changes under the Masterplan programme. It is expected to create as many as 5,500 new jobs, potentially bring up to 3,000 new residents into the city-centre and could very well drive investment into our local economy of around £3 billion.
All of this plus a £250 million City Region Deal, which will support new housing and additional infrastructure projects. Some commentators point to the oil crisis and warn that Aberdeen’s best days are behind it. Nothing could be further from the truth. We may be the lowest funded local authority in Scotland but the breadth and depth of the new projects taking place are genuinely awe-inspiring.
Aberdeen City Council’s Marischal Square project in partnership with Muse Developments to build office and retail space, alongisde a new 126-room Marriott Hotel, a £30 million redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery, a £7 million makeover of the Music Hall, a brand new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre costing £330 million, a £300 million extension of Aberdeen Harbour and thousands of new social, council and affordable housing are all in the works.
Queen’s Square is also earmarked for a new mixed-use residential and cultural quarter and the Castlegate is due to be reinvigorated as a major new civic square.
The Masterplan is also expected to produce 1.4 million sq ft of new office space as we prepare for the next wave of inward investment which will see Aberdeen reaffirm its ‘oil capital of Europe’ status and become one of the country’s best energy and technology hubs.
Innovation is certainly alive and well. Over the past year we have seen 1,300 new start-ups in the area, supported through our Business Gateway programme and, proving that diversification is alive and well in the North-east, just 15 per cent of these new companies are from the oil and gas sector. The rest relate to travel and tourism, technology, food and drink and others.
I am proud to be part of this programme of regeneration which will set the city on a course of success for decades to come. Watch closely as this story unfolds and the message begins to hit home: Far from watching our best days disappear behind us, thanks to this innovative programme of change and investment, Aberdeen’s best days lie ahead.