Sir Ian Wood pledges £50m to create new heart for Aberdeen
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November 12 2008At His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen and in front of an audience that included First Minister Alex Salmond, Wood, one of Scotland's wealthiest businessmen, outlined plans to donate up to £50million for the creation of a new square in the centre of Aberdeen.
The North Sea oil magnate is backing and funding plans to create a city-centre square above the valley incorporating Union Terrace Gardens, the Denburn dual carriageway and the main Aberdeen-Inverness rail line.
The aim is to convert the five-acre site into a square which would look to combine the features of a grand Italian piazza with a miniature version of New York's Central Park.
Sir Ian commented: “In my young days, Union Street was both the main retail centre and the heart - a street which ranked among the best in Scotland”
He continued: “Sadly, it is now a shadow of its former glory and, with some exceptions, lacks any real distinction and quality. The vision is to develop a new street-level city centre square, a transformational project aimed at putting the heart back into Aberdeen.”
Alex Salmond said of Sir Ian's plans: "It stands in the best possible examples of the tradition of Scottish philanthropy. It is an extraordinary commitment."
Sir Ian faces major opposition, however, from Peacock Visual Arts, which already has plans approved for a new contemporary arts centre on the site.
The Peacock scheme for the Gardens has full planning permission and over 70% of the funding and, while they are willing to try resolve the issue with Sir Ian in an attempt to benefit all, any delay in proceedings will most likely mean losing their design team, architect and campaign team, immediate redundancies at Peacock, and the loss of their funding package which is time-limited.
Peacock's concerns can be viewed here www.peacockvisualarts.com
Back to November 2008
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