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Development partners Muse, Aviva Investors and Aberdeen City Council reveal the new shape of key city centre location


The new shape of one of the key locations in Aberdeen city centre has been revealed today (Thursday, April 3rd, 2014) ahead of plans for the new 107 million Marischal Square development being lodged with Aberdeen City Council later this month.

 Urban regeneration and property specialist Muse Developments will be submitting a full planning application for the project which will transform the former St. Nicholas House site and include a greater prominence for the 469-year-old Provost Skene's House.

With demolition work continuing on site, Muse and Aberdeen City Council have also reacted positively to the comments made by the 2,500 people who participated in the two rounds of consultation exhibitions in the city during October, November and December last year by reviewing the site plan for the development in terms of the mix of commercial and civic space.

Marischal Square, which is fully funded by Aviva Investors, will deliver a vibrant new mixed-use quarter for the city and include offices with associated car parking, hotel, retail, cafes, restaurants and civic space, along with public access, landscaping and public realm improvements around a site once dominated by the former council headquarters building St. Nicholas House.

The site is due to be handed over to Muse later this year ahead of the scheme being completed in 2017.

The plans for Marischal Square include:
•  175,000 sq ft of offices with 250 associated car spaces
•  125 bed four-star hotel
•  13,000 sq ft of civic space in front of Provost Skene's House
•  46,000 sq ft of civic space on Broad Street between Marischal College and the Marischal Square site (one-and-a-half times the size of Castlegate)
•  Full pedestrianisation of this section of Broad Street
•  A mixture of granite and glass in the elevations

Councillor Marie Boulton, deputy leader of Aberdeen City Council said: "The response by the public to Muse's consultation has been fantastic. The proposals have generated a huge amount of interest and I am sure that interest will continue as the final proposals are laid out.

"The project has now reached a very exciting stage and I would encourage everyone who has a view on it to go along to the exhibition at the art gallery today and on Saturday to see the plans, including the model of the scheme, for themselves. There will also be an opportunity to view the information at Marischal College after the weekend.

"Whatever your views on the Marischal Square proposals, I would encourage the Aberdeen public to make them known. There will be plenty of time to do this during the statutory planning consultation which will take place once the planning application has been submitted."

The council's director of Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Gordon McIntosh said it was vital that the project balanced the essential commercial requirements of the development with a scheme which would reflect positively on the city and those 'living and breathing' Marischal Square in the years to come.

"This site is one of the last remaining significant development sites in Aberdeen city centre. The proposals for the site are exciting – a hotel, offices, shops and restaurants which will bring new jobs into the area, significantly boosting the local economy and business growth. Marischal Square will be the catalyst for further development of the city centre.

"We are delighted that Muse has been able to balance the essential commercial requirements of the development, the views of the public through the consultation, and the principles of good design to create a positive development on a key city site."

Muse, who have an extensive track record in developing similar projects throughout the UK, were appointed as development partners with the council on Marischal Square in May last year and the company's regional director for Scotland, Steve Turner, said he was delighted with progress on the project.

"The Marischal Square proposal fulfils the vision of the city's Bon Accord Masterplan by providing a new civic square for Aberdeen, creating a fitting setting for Marischal College as well as delivering a vibrant new mixed-use development in keeping with Aberdeen's justifiable position as one of the UK's leading business destinations.

"Marischal Square has the potential to make a long-term impact on the local economy and it is vital the city has the right mix of office and commercial space to capitalise on the opportunities that will arise as the city continues to enjoy a significant business boom.

"The fact that we have been in a position to align that ambition with the views of those living and working in the city in terms of the importance of the civic element is a testament to the strong working relationship we have with the Aberdeen City Council and Aviva Investors teams on the project.

"A key element of that is that we will be replacing the former 15-storey St. Nicholas House building with new office and commercial buildings that will respect the city's granite history and be no more than six or seven storeys high and that again is something the public were keen to see reflected in Marischal Square."

The Marischal Square funding agreement with Aviva Investors will see Aberdeen City Council lease the development from Muse and receive the rental profits for 35 years, after which time the site and development will transfer into Council ownership.

Julian Taylor, Head of REaLM Funds at Aviva Investors said: "With funding already in place, the project has been in a position to move forward with confidence and there is no doubt that what we are building on the former St. Nicholas House site will resonate both with the business sector and the community at large.

"Aberdeen's position as one of the key business locations in Europe will be further enhanced by what we are delivering around Marischal Square and the City Council's forward thinking outlook on the development will pay dividends for years to come."
The project will create 300 construction jobs during the construction process and the potential for 1,500 new jobs in the area when the project is complete.

The full Marischal Square plans and images will be presented to the Aberdeen public at a special exhibition in Aberdeen Art Gallery on Friday (from 10.00am to 5.00pm) and Saturday (from 10.00am to 3.00pm) April 4th and 5th. The exhibition materials will also be on display in the reception area of Marischal College from 7 – 17 April.