Spaces for People - including City Centre

Aberdeen City Council is 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.  

Union Street and nearby streets were the first to have the new works installed, and they are continuing to have changes and additional works.  Other areas which have had temporary changes to the road layout and on-street parking to widen pavements include Torry, Rosemount, George Street and the beach area. The later stages of the works will see temporary changes on Peterculter, Cults and North Deeside Road.

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, the public and other stakeholders s being taken into consideration.  

People can give feedback either via the online physical distancing measures consultation at physical distancing measures consultation.

Unfortunately, we were not able to carry out the usual amount and levels of consultation and engagement with local residents, businesses and the public for the Union Street works, due to the importance and timescales of having to implement the physical distancing measures for pedestrians as soon as we could. However we are working with local business groups, community councils and other stakeholders in tweaking the designs, and are doing the same for other areas.

Sustrans carried out a Commonplace consultation on the Spaces for People interventions. The consultation was live between 12 June and 13 August 2020 and asked people to identify on a map areas of the city where they were finding physical distancing difficult, with respondents able to make comments and agree or disagree with others’ comments. The findings of the survey have helped shape the Spaces for People proposals and will be reviewed as we develops our next Active Travel Action Plan to determine whether any of the issues suggested by respondents require a permanent solution.


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.  

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

Cafes, restaurants and bars seeking guidance on outside eating areas should consult the Guide for Businesses.


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

UPDATE: At a meeting of the council’s City Growth and Resources committee on the Wednesday 28 October, officers were instructed to remove the temporary cycle lane along Beach Esplanade, leaving the one-way system between Beach Boulevard and Wellington Street, in place. These temporary works had been implemented under Spaces for People a fund set up by the Scottish Government, and administered by SUSTRANS, in response to the COVID19 pandemic.  

Details of the committee are available at City Growth and Resources Committee. The decision sheet will be available at this link next week. 

Officers are now working on a programme for the removal of these interventions in the context of ongoing capital and maintenance works. 

This map showing where Blue Badge parking is around the city centre may be helpful when planning trips:

Please see the below map showing where the taxi ranks are on Hadden Street, Chapel Street, Dee Street and Rosemount Viaduct. 


There will be 27 temporary stops marked out by ooden totems or by a temporary bus stop pole on Union Street from Monday 14 September, and the wooden totems will have bus timetables fixed to them. The update timetable information is being rolled out over the next few weeks and is available on bus operators’ websites and through the Traveline website as usual.  

The stops in the remainder of the city centre will remain open so will have the usual signage. 

Please see the below map showing where the bus stops are, and which routes serve the stops. 


Please see the below map for information on dropping-off and picking up around the city centre schools. 

George Street between John Street and St Andrew Street is temporarily closed to all traffic as a result of subsidence following flooding on 12 August.  Southbound traffic should turn left at John Street, turn right at Loch Street and right again along St Andrew Street to miss the closed section.


From Tuesday 15 September, a mobile camera will be used to enforce at the Union Street bus gate.  The vehicles permitted to go through the bus gate includes buses, pedal cycles, taxis and authorised vehicles only on the length of Union Street between its junction with Market Street and just before its junction with The Adelphi.  

The authorised vehicles exemption includes emergency blue light vehicles, private hire vehicles, a courier service dropping off or picking packages in the specified area, and a security company dropping off or picking packages in the specified area, HGVs can also use the bus gate to exit the area. 

For more information please view our physical distancing leaflet; 

For more details on the specific areas, see below.

Union Street and nearby streets



Beach area

George Street


Average vehicle, pedestrian and cycle numbers in Aberdeen


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. 

No, the Council is not paying for these. The cost for the temporary structures is being borne by the bar, café or restaurant.

No, that is not true. The permissions for these structures are decided by the Spaces for People Governance Board, which comprises of representatives from NHS Grampian Public Health Service, Police Scotland, NESTRANS, and various Aberdeen City Council staff. Aberdeen Inspired is not represented on the board and does not attend the meetings.

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 We will continually be reviewing all the measures with feedback from businesses and the public and  we are amending the measures with this feedback 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. 


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. We have also added planters and street benches.

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.   

Physical distancing measures consultation.

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 are continually reviewing the interventions and making amendments as necessary. 

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