NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

City Garden Project exhibition in Aberdeen finishes

The six designs short-listed for Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen
Image caption Models and artists' impressions have been on show for two weeks

An exhibition of short-listed designs for controversial plans to transform Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen has finished.

Six design teams were chosen to compete for the high-profile £140m City Garden Project.

It followed an international design contest to raise the level of the Victorian gardens.

Thousands of people viewed the plans at an exhibition in The Academy on Belmont Street over the past two weeks.

It closed at 19:00, and a winner is expected to be announced later in the month.

A spokeswoman for the City Garden Project management board said: "There has been an overwhelming response to the exhibition with 15,000 visits over the two-week period.

"The concept designs have created a real buzz and opened a largely positive debate around our city centre and the potential for transformation."

The Scottish government has said it will approve plans by Aberdeen City Council to use the tax incremental financing scheme to raise tens of millions of pounds if public support for the project can be demonstrated.

The six teams are Foster and Partners of London, Diller Scofidio and Renfro/Keppie Design, Snohetta from Oslo/Gareth Hoskins Architects of Glasgow, Gustafson Porter of London, and two from the Netherlands - Mecanoo and West 8.

Sir Ian Wood, the Aberdeen oil services tycoon, has pledged £50m of his own finances for the project.

During an earlier public consultation process, 55% of respondents said they did not support the new development.

However, councillors backed taking the plans to the next stage.

The local authority is now considering a possible referendum on the issue.

If the project proceeds, Aberdeen City Council hopes construction of the city gardens could be finished by 2016.

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