Spaces for People - including City Centre

We are working with partners, including NHS Grampian, to create temporary space for pedestrians to allow them to better physically distance while walking or standing in queues for shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. 

The Council was awarded a ringfenced £1.76 million grant on 26 May from the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund to carry out temporary works in our streets to help provide space to physically distance in line with government guidance.  

The temporary works will help protect public health by reducing COVID-19 transmission in the city which will in turn reduce the number of cases NHS Grampian’s contact tracing team have to cope with, making their intervention easier and more effective. The measures will further help the economic recovery of the city and allow people to continue to use active travel such as walking and cycling. These temporary measures will create the space for people to physically distance near shops and eateries and are facilitating businesses to reopen. 

The grant will pay for a roll out of temporary measures to allow people to walk, cycle, and queue for buses and shopping while adhering to the physically distancing guidance. Measures taking place include pedestrianisation, pavement widening, temporary bike lanes, and one-way walking.  

The city centre, and Union Street in particular, faces challenges because pavements are not wide enough to accommodate the current 2-metre level of physical distancing.  

We are concentrating on Union Street and nearby streets first as they have the highest footfall in the city, and we have been getting these measures in place before the reopening of shops as part of Phase 2 of the easing of lockdown restrictions starts, as more people are likely to be returning to these areas then. We are also working with café, restaurant and pub owners in these areas who might want to open temporary outdoor seated areas. 

Traffic around the centre has been re-routed to free up carriageway space for pedestrians, cyclists, and businesses. Access continues to be provided to the city centre car parks as well as for residents and businesses. Access to the carparks at Bon Accord Centre and M&S/Marischal Square is also maintained.

We have moved Blue Badge parking bays from Belmont Street to the nearby and off-street road beside Robert Gordon’s College – this map showing where Blue Badge parking is around the city centre may be helpful:

Here’s the works we’ve carried out so far on Union Street and nearby streets, and these are being tweaked or changed as we continue thanks to feedback from the public: 

  • Pedestrianise the section between Market Street and Broad Street
  • Pedestrianise Upperkirkgate/Schoolhill from Flourmill Lane to Back Wynd
  • Businesses can get deliveries from 6pm to 10am in the pedestrianised sections
  • Move blue badge parking bays from Belmont Street to the off-street road beside RGC
  • Close Rose Street (Union Street to Thistle Street) and Chapel Street (Thistle Street to Rose Street) to traffic, and provision has been made for local take-away food outlets
  • Thistle Street is now one way from Thistle Lane to Chapel Street
  • Chapel Street is now one way from Thistle Street to Huntly Street
  • A bus gate – which means service buses, taxis and cyclists only are allowed - is being installed on Union Street from just after the Adelphi to the Market Street junction

Motorists are asked to plan their journey in advance to avoid Union Street, and not carry out any journeys crossing the city centre. So, for example, if they live in Garthdee and are going to the Bon Accord Shopping Centre, use the bypass or Anderson Drive to go around the city centre and then in to the shopping centre’s Loch Street car park via Westburn Road or Great Northern Road.

Later stages of the works which are due to start in the next few weeks will see temporary changes to the road layout and on-street parking to widen pavements on Rosemount, Peterculter, Cults, North Deeside Road, and George Street.  

The detailed designs for these other areas are being drawn up and approved in a rolling programme of works, and these detailed designs will be made public only after they’re approved. Please remember the designs are continually being reviewed and feedback from businesses and the public is being taken into consideration.  

Temporary measures have been installed at the bridge end of Victoria Road in Torry which will allow people in the area to walk about and queue for shops and buses, while observing physical distancing – here’s a map showing what the measures are.

 

 

 

People can give feedback either via the online physical distancing measures consultation at physical distancing measures consultation or use the Sustrans mapping consultation tool.

Unfortunately, we were not able to carry out the usual amount and levels of consultation and engagement with local residents, businesses and the public, due to the importance and timescales of having to implement the physical distancing measures for pedestrians as soon as we could. 

We have had produced a Guide For Businesses which will be distributed to businesses through our contacts and also through partner organisations such as Aberdeen Inspired. 

Many businesses have got in touch to say they are supportive of what we’re doing and understand that due to the timescales of COVID-19, they understand we could not carry out our usual levels of consultation beforehand. 

The length of time the temporary measures will be in place will be determined by NHS and Government guidance for physical distancing.  
 

No, the measures are temporary and will only be in place to protect the public health and allow for social distancing in busy streets during COVID-19. The grant from the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund is ringfenced so the money can only be used to pay for the temporary measures. Similar measures are taking place in cities and towns across Scotland to allow for social distancing. The measures will be in place for as long as the Scottish Government and the NHS want physical distancing to take place. 
 

Where lengths of parking have been removed this is to allow safe use of the carriageway by pedestrians whilst walking along a street or queueing for access to businesses/ public transport while adhering to the physically distancing guidance.  The additional space is required because pavements are not wide enough to accommodate the current 2-metre level of physical distancing. 

The Council is currently not considering any refund or reduction in the cost of residential parking permits due to the measures being introduced as part of the COVID 19 recovery process to improve social distancing within the city centre. 

Chapel Street and Denburn car parks are available free of charge to Zone A, C and K permit holders between 6pm and 8pm; accordingly, this provides a parking window from 6pm to 8am in terms of no charge. The same arrangement is applicable to West North St and Virginia when considering Zones F and G. 

 

Given the time frame, it was not possible to engage in advance of introducing these measures. The Council is undertaking engagement on the measures put in place through direct engagement with businesses and with the help of Aberdeen Inspired and other local business organisations.  Businesses only can make contact via sfpbusiness@aberdeencity.gov.uk. We will continually be reviewing all the measures with feedback from businesses and the public and we will look to make amendments to improve any of the interventions.    

 

Where lengths of parking have been removed, this is to allow safe use of the carriageway by pedestrians whilst walking along a street or queueing for access to businesses/ public transport while adhering to the physically distancing guidance.  The additional space is required because pavements are not wide enough to accommodate the current 2-metre level of physical distancing. 
 

Delivery and service vehicles can get access only from 6pm to 10am. The pedestrianised areas will be pedestrianised at all times and all other traffic will not be allowed at any time. 

 
 

The first stage of work includes pedestrianisation of the section of Union Street between Bridge Street and Market Street, pedestrianisation of the section of Schoolhill between Harriet Street and Flourmill Lane, pedestrianisation of Bon Accord Street between Union Street and Langstane Place, and pedestrianisation of Summer Street and Rose Street both from Union Street to Thistle Street. This work starts on Saturday 30th May. The taxi rank on Back Wynd will be shortened to stop outside MacBeans and taxis will have to turn and exit via Belmont Street.

Later stages of the works, which are due to start in the first two weeks of June, will see temporary changes to the road layout and on-street parking to widen pavements will also take place on Rosemount, Victoria Road in Torry, Peterculter, Cults, North Deeside Road, and George Street. 

  

Drivers, including blue badge holders,can still use Union Street to access the residential areas to the North and South, but the central section between Bridge Street and Market Street will be closed to allow more space for people to physically distance. The other sections of the Union Street will be narrowed to allow the current bus lanes to be used for pedestrians to queue at bus stops and shops.   

 

The work will require the reallocation of bus lanes on Union Street for queuing and relocation of some bus stops to more appropriate locations. Bus services will continue to use Union Street, but will be redirected to avoid the area between Bridge Street and Market Street, with the re-routing of services around Bridge St, Guild St, Market Street, buses only at the top of Market Street turning right onto Union Street.,   
 

It is expected to keep the majority of the disabled parking bays in the city centre in their current locations, however if there is a need to remove any it is expected that they will be replaced.  
 

Yes, access is being maintained to all of the car parks. Where possible, and in line with Scottish Government guidance, we would encourage people to walk and cycle where they can.  
 

For access purposes residents can still use Union Street but we would encourage you to use any of the alternative routes where possible to provide the maximum space on Union Street for physical distancing.   

  

All of the measures delivered with the support of the Spaces for People fund must be temporary. As such the first stage will look similar to how the city centre looks during events like the Great North Run or the Tour series, using temporary barriers. Later stages, working with businesses and Aberdeen Inspired, will introduce planters and other interventions.   
 

Where possible it is intended to introduce segregated cycle lanes but the priority in the city centre is providing space for the most vulnerable users, pedestrians. Queuing for shops and public transport at 2 metre centres takes up considerable amounts of space and without that we cannot reopen the city centre safely.  
 

Where we have seen an increase in cycling demand, we aim will be to provide segregated safe routes where possible and where Sustrans’ funding allows. We will then be engaging with the public to refine those interventions where necessary.  Cyclists are fundamental to active travel and a growing transport group across the city. As such they are a key strand of the bid to the Space for People fund, but in all cases pedestrians, who are the most vulnerable in terms of physical distancing, must be the priority.   
 

https://consultation.aberdeencity.gov.uk/planning/physical-distancing-measures. Removing or reducing traffic, while maintaining public transport and allowing people to walk and cycle safely is fundamental to physical distancing. We will be seeking in all instances to reduce the pinch points and clashes between pedestrians, and between pedestrians and all other transport modes.  
 

As lockdown progresses, further changes to the transport network may also be required at local shopping areas to ensure there is enough space for pedestrians to physically distance and to ensure the number of people visiting the centres and the city centre is manageable to protect public health.  

 

This will be determined by NHS Scotland and Scottish Government guidance.

Given the timeframe it was not possible to engage in advance of introducing these measures. The Council is undertaking engagement on the measures put in place on a map-based consultation and a question-based consultation. Once we have received feedback from the public, businesses etc we will look to make amendments to improve any of the interventions.   


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