City centre visioning project scoops prize

An Aberdeen City Council school engagement project that invited nearly 400 youngsters to share their vision for Union Street has received a prestigious national planning award.

The Union Street Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) Shopfront Design Project was a joint winner in the “People” category at the Scottish Government’s Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning.

Judging criteria covered “innovation in the participation of a person or people (whether young or old) making a demonstrable effect on the transformation of a place or within the planning system”.

Pupils from six primary schools – Albyn, Heathryburn, Kittybrewster, Middleton Park, Robert Gordon’s College and Skene Square – designed and built models of their ideal shop for Union Street, the city’s iconic thoroughfare.

Pupils’ ideas from ranged a pet shop with a dog assault course to a retailer specialising in space toys to a shop where you could create sweets with any flavour, including Brussels Sprouts.

The project was developed by the Council, the Aberdeen Urban Studies Trust, and the Aberdeen City Heritage Trust, and supported by The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment and the Aberdeen Society of Architects.

Conservation planners guided pupils in the art of successful place-making, including the importance of understanding and respecting heritage when creating shop frontages.

The £2.4 million CARS programme is jointly funded by Aberdeen City Council and Historic Environment Scotland with further backing from Aberdeen Inspired and Aberdeen City Heritage Trust. Grants are available to help pay for repairs and renovations.