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Public hearing recommended for Marischal Square plans


The Marischal Square planning application will be considered by councillors for the first time next week, when they will decide whether or not to hold a public hearing.

Planning officials have recommended that Aberdeen City Council's Planning Development Management Committee defers consideration of the application for a public hearing, because of the authority's ownership of the land and the range of issues raised in the 43 representations made to the planning authority.

The committee will consider the matter when it meets in the Town House on Thursday, 24 July.

Muse Developments proposes a mixed-use development, including offices, a hotel, shops and restaurants, civic space and public realm improvements. The development would provide 16,264 square metres of office space and 2,193 square metres of retail and restaurant space, along with a four-star, 125 bedroom hotel.

The Broad Street frontage would be defined by the office buildings and a space between them allowing access to and views of Provost Skene's House, which would be set in an area of public open space. The majority of ground-level floorspace would be in retail and leisure use, including restaurants. The proposed L-shaped hotel building would be sited in the south-west corner of the site.

Proposals for the civic square involve granite paving, with sculpted benches and seating edges, also in granite. Trees, uplit in the evenings, would be sited at the Queen Street end to form a strong edge and shelter the space. A series of lawns, at ground and elevated levels are proposed here and a water feature is also proposed.

All applications in which the Council has a financial interest which have attracted more than 20 objections trigger a report to Committee to seek a decision on whether or not a public hearing should be held.

Head of Planning and Sustainable Development Dr Margaret Bochel states in her report: "The representations received raise a wide range of issues, including the massing, scale and architectural composition of the proposed buildings; the implications of Broad Street's closure for congestion on the surrounding road network, air quality and noise pollution; the relationship between the proposals and the surrounding listed buildings, notably Provost Skene's House and Marischal College; and the potentially adverse impact on the viability of existing retail uses.

"It is considered that the most appropriate manner of addressing these concerns is to convene a hearing at which all parties will have an opportunity to state their views."

If the Planning Development Management Committee agrees to hold a public hearing, at which Muse would have the opportunity to give a presentation about the Marischal Square proposals and those who made official representations to the planning authority during the statutory consultation period would have an opportunity to voice their views, a date for the hearing will be set.

A decision on the planning application will not be made on the day of the public hearing.