Private Sector Funding Signals Green Light for Next Steps in City Garden Project

The City Garden Project management board today announced that a commitment of over £400,000 has been secured up-front from the Wood Family Trust, to help fund the next steps in the project plan.
Contracts will soon be in place to manage the international design competition and community engagement with designs expected to be available for public consultation in the autumn.
The business case for the project is being progressed as part of the city centre tax incremental financing (TIF) application. This follows the recent announcement that Aberdeen city centre redevelopment could be the fourth of six pilot TIF schemes in Scotland. The TIF being proposed would unlock up to £80 million to deliver a range of city centre improvements as part of the city centre masterplan.
At the heart of the city centre regeneration is the City Garden Project, which has already secured a commitment of £55 million of private sector investment with a further £15 million planned.
Other projects include a major extension to Aberdeen Art Gallery, the redevelopment of the St Nicholas House site, the Upper Denburn Valley and the provision of public realm and street-scaping works to improve linkages in and around the city centre.
Aberdeen City Gardens Trust has been set up, under the auspices of the City Garden Project management board, as a special purpose vehicle to channel funding for the project and deliver key activities within the project plan. The Trust will operate using best practice procurement procedures and will be accountable for the delivery of activities to project management board.
The Trust will also receive £375,000 of Scottish Enterprise funding from its available funds for major infrastructure projects.
Cllr John Stewart, chairman of the City Garden Project management board, said: “The fact that Aberdeen City Council is making no revenue contribution to the project means it is necessary to be imaginative in the way in which non-council finance levered into the project is managed. The creation of the Trust presents us with an ideal solution. Equally, it will allow for contracting of the required services involved in the next steps and for the project to progress to the design competition stage and complete the business case for the TIF application. Through the TIF we will be to access funding not otherwise available to invest in the art gallery and the St Nicholas House site, enhancing and reinvigorating our city centre."

The founding directors of the Trust are Tom Smith and Colin Crosby who will be joined by Directors from Aberdeen City Council and others involved in the project in due course.

The City Garden Project Management Board will continue to provide leadership and approve the project plan. In addition, the Project Implementation Team comprising representatives from

Aberdeen City Council, Scottish Enterprise and other stakeholders, will continue to provide advice and support and make recommendations to PMB when required.

The City Garden Project is the vision for a green and vibrant heart for Aberdeen city centre by raising Union Terrace Gardens, creating new civic and cultural facilities and covering over the unsightly Denburn dual carriageway and adjacent railway line.

Tom Smith, chairman of ACSEF said: “This is about creating something unique and very special for Aberdeen. It is about accessible gardens and parks on different levels, using the natural slopes of the site. It is about space, above and below, for all sorts of activities for everyone to enjoy.

"It is good news that we have secured a way in which to channel the private sector contribution to the next stage of the project plan and which provides impetus to drive the project forward.

"The most important next step is the design competition when renowned architects and urban designers will be invited to submit designs showing how the strategic, central location can be radically transformed to create street level access to green gardens designed and landscaped with trees, grass and plants for all seasons, potentially animated with water and light features.
“The designs will demonstrate how the City Garden Project will deliver on its promises of a bigger and brighter garden, open space for cultural and recreational activities, restoring and retaining key parts of our history and heritage, making it easier to get around, regenerating the whole city centre and, in turn, helping safe-guard and create jobs and prosperity.”

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