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Aberdeen can compete with world's best cities for global investment under Masterplan and regeneration programme

15/04/16

The regeneration expert appointed to help drive forward the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) said the city can compete on a global stage.

Marc Cole, who has successfully delivered major projects across the UK, said the journey towards creating an even more vibrant heart had already started.

The City Centre Director said: "It's about building on what is already here as opposed to coming in and starting afresh because Aberdeen is already a great UK city.

"I was staggered by the quality of the built environment and architecture, and the wonderful townscape.

"There is an intrinsic attractiveness to the place but I don't think we currently make enough of what we have.

"What the City Centre Masterplan seeks to do is transform the city centre into a place where people want to live, work and spend their spare time.

"We are rolling out the biggest regeneration programme in the city's history."

The CCMP, unanimously approved by Aberdeen City Council in June 2015, aims to build on the city's reputation as a global business and leisure destination.

It outlines 49 catalytic economic, infrastructure, environmental and community projects to kick start a 25 year regeneration programme.

The Marischal Square and Aberdeen Art Gallery projects are under construction and the Music Hall refurbishment is about to start. Development briefs are being prepared to the Station Gateway and Denburn Valley.

Mr Cole said: "We will succeed in creating a place which is attractive to investors.

"The projects we have started and have coming on line support that ideal.

"If you look at what Aberdeen City Council is doing around transportation, digital connectivity, housing and commercial developments, it all supports the long-term plan.

"Cities are increasingly competing on the global stage and Aberdeen has to be at the sharp end of this world-wide trend."

Mr Cole has a successful track record in delivering large scale infrastructure, economic development, housing and cultural projects in places like Manchester, Merseyside, Bradford and Nottingham.

He believes Aberdeen could draw inspiration from around the world – from the dynamism of Reykjavík in Iceland to New York's parks and public realm spaces.

The masterplan chief, who has been in post for 10 weeks, said: "We are seeing a trend where more and more people are living in city centres.

"However, we need to be aware that people are increasingly mobile both within companies and globally, and therefore it's really important that Aberdeen is competing with cities not just in the UK but further afield.

"People want to work for companies based in the cities which are exciting and dynamic, with a tremendous quality of life.

"Aberdeen already has a huge advantage in being ranked as one of the top 5 best cities in the UK as reported in the Good Growth for Cities Index in 2015

"We have the power to tap into the global trend for social change.

"This Masterplan will allow us to compete with places like Manchester, Oslo, Copenhagen, Houston and Dubai."

Mr Cole said delivering the Masterplan would require the local authority to work alongside the private and voluntary sectors, and with key stakeholders like Aberdeen Inspired, Opportunity North East, Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, and the Trinity Group.

But he added that the real key to success was a comprehensive public engagement strategy.

He said: "The community has embraced the Masterplan and the mood is very positive.

"When I've been talking to business leaders, school children and others, there's been genuine enthusiasm about what can be done to secure the continued success of the city.

"The city centre belongs to everyone of one us who live and work in Aberdeen and the success of the Masterplan will be down to the buy in, support and the ownership we get from the public."