Aberdeen is known as "the Flower of Scotland", I'm told. I know it better as "Granite City" because such a huge part of Aberdeen is built from granite. Whilst Aberdeen's Duthie Park is understandably a turist attraction, most visitors will just know the grey granite city centre with its very few pockets of greenery/fresh air. You walk and walk and suddenly all you know of the world is grey granite. And then you make it to the Union Terrace Gardens and you sigh a very big sigh of relief. Except The Aberdeen City Council has decided the Union Terrace Gardens need to be developed (or should that be re-developed).
You see, planning permission was already in place for a new visual arts centre - an expansion of Peacock Visual Arts which would have provided North East Scotland with a proper arts centre next to its Art Gallery and the library - as was funding, but these £13.5m plans have now been scraped in favour of a £140m plan suggested by local oil tycoon, Ian Wood. Wood's plan involves raising the Gardens to street level (using a concrete base), a car park and new shopping facilities.
Cue massive public outcry, a public consultation which found overwhelmingly against Ian Wood's plan, and a City Council which decided to side with the money man.
As you can tell, I'm on the side that think a concreted Union Terrace Garden will just make Aberdeen look even more grey. It is a shame.
On an entirely different note, if you read nothing else today, do go read Bells' blog entry about reading her grandmother's letters. It tugged damn hard at my expat heartstrings and it also made me miss my grandmother even more. I'm a professional cynic, but, really, my heart's not in it (especially after reading Bells' words).