About Spaces for People

The Scottish Government created ringfenced Spaces for People grants for all local authorities in Scotland to carry out temporary works in our streets to help provide space to physically distance in line with government guidance for Covid-19.

In Aberdeen, we were awarded £1.76 million grant on 26 May 2020 to provide temporary interventions to allow people to walk, cycle, and queue for buses and shopping while adhering to physically distancing guidance. Measures included pedestrianisation, pavement widening, temporary bike lanes, and one-way walking.

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 have worked with local business groups, community councils, and other stakeholders to tweak the designs. 

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 temporary works help to protect public health by reducing Covid-19 transmission in the city which in turn reduces the number of cases NHS Grampian’s contact tracing team have to cope with, making their intervention easier and more effective. The measures further helps the economic recovery of the city by allowing 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.


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 sfpbusiness@aberdeencity.gov.uk. 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. 


In the city centre, 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. Pavement-widening has also taken place in Rosemount, Victoria Road in Torry, 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.

The majority of the disabled parking bays in the city centre were kept in the same locations, and those which were removed were replaced nearby.  

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.

At a meeting of the council’s City Growth and Resources committee on the Wednesday 28 October 2020, 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. 
Details of the committee are available on the City Growth and Resources Committee webpage. The temporary cycle lane was subsequently removed. 

The priority in the city centre is providing space for the most vulnerable users, pedestrians. Queuing for shops and public transport at 2m distances takes up considerable amounts of space and without that we cannot reopen the city centre safely.   

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.  

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 has undertaken consultations and the results of these will be part of a report to committee. We have continually reviewing the interventions and making amendments as necessary due to feedback from the public and businesses.  

Scottish Government advice is to follow FACTS – 

  • Wear a Face covering
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Clean hands and surfaces regularly
  • Stay two metres away from other people

People are asked to self-isolate and book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

The latest Scottish Government advice can be found on the Scottish Government website: Coronavirus in Scotland

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