Plans for Union Terrace Gardens
SIR, – It was amusing, if not pathetic, to read (the Press and Journal, September 2) that a plea against the yet to be detailed Sir Ian Wood proposals for Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens is being made by the proponents of the Peacock Visual Arts scheme for the gardens.
The Peacock scheme, by its introduction of alien architectural forms and destruction of many mature trees, is as damaging to the ambiance of central Aberdeen as could be, and it is a scandal that it was rushed through in the way it was.
That the gardens need attention is not denied, but this must not include destruction of our inheritance in the loss of this historic part of the planned townscape of Aberdeen.
Raising the gardens to street level would provide us with a windswept nowhere with the loss of the trees and changes of levels which give such a satisfactory setting for the almost mediaeval appearance of the rear of Belmont Street and the grand facades of Union Terrace – our own Princes Street Gardens.
One sunny day in May, I lost count at over 150 of the number of people enjoying the gardens, playing with their children and eating their lunch.
I can’t see that happening on a level site, punctuated by rose beds and other vulgar ephemera.
There is scope, and time, for a far more satisfactory outcome to this matter to be discussed in detail before any final decision which will be regretted is made.
Norman G. Marr,
Plans for Union Terrace Gardens
SIR, – I write in response to Norman G. Marr’s letter (the Press and Journal, September 7) headed “Plans for Union Terrace Gardens”.
The “amusing” and “pathetic” plea was made last week as part of the I love UTG campaign, which has at its core the retention of the gardens and support for the best outcome for the site.
Sir Ian Wood’s “yet to be detailed” plans were outlined in the feasibility study published in June. The study outlines three options, two of which will see Union Terrace Gardens removed, is it describes as “approximately 3,947 dump trucks of earth and 4,605 dump trucks of granite” and paved over. The first option sees paving from Union Terrace to Belmont Street, the second option connections to Belmont Street not entirely made. The third option, which has been ruled out as having no benefits, would see the Art Centre going ahead with landscaping done to the fabric of the Gardens.
The plans for the contemporary art centre development were brought forward by a partnership between Peacock Visual Arts and Aberdeen City Council, with many restrictions made on the final design, to make sure that the build is sympathetic and has no long-lasting damaging effects to the garden, and so fits in with the Aberdeen Local Plan (2008), something that is overlooked in Sir Ian’s vision for the area. For each tree uprooted as part of the Art Centre development another of similar age and size must be planted. No such compromise is possible within the plans for the civic square as detailed in the feasibility study.
The art centre development has passed its own feasibility study, achieved full planning permission, three quarters of its funding, and passed a public consultation process, all of which took two years to come around. This is hardly “rushed”, as Mr Marr suggests.
I am in agreement that we cannot lose the gardens, which are vital to the historic context of the city.
The I love UTG campaign is striving to maintain the gardens and ensure that they are not destroyed in the wake of these new plans, something which should not be undermined as “amusing” or “pathetic”.