NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Aberdeen's City Garden Project leads in early voting

Granite Web
Image caption The Granite Web proposal was chosen as a design contest winner

Early results from a referendum show a lead for redeveloping Aberdeen's Union Terrace Gardens.

People have been asked if they want to keep the historic gardens as they are or back the £140m City Garden Project.

Online votes were 16,428 for the project and 12,274 for retaining UTG, with 5,073 for the project by phone against 4,081.

Postal votes - the largest method - are being counted. The result is expected by about 13:00.

The total number of ballot papers issued was 165,830 and there were 86,825 responses - a 52% turnout.

The number of votes cast by post was 48,969, with 28,702 online and 9,154 by phone.

Image caption Opponents argue that historic Union Terrace Gardens should stay the same

The count began at 10:00 after the ballot closed on Thursday.

Businessman Sir Ian Wood is backing the selected Granite Web project with £50m of his own money, and the Wood Family Trust has offered an additional £35m for any cost overruns.

However opponents claim the project is wrong for Aberdeen, historically and financially.

The Scottish government must see a finalised business case for the project before it can proceed.

During a previous public consultation process, 55% of those who took part said they did not support the new development.

But councillors backed taking the plans to the next stage.

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