Could the £150m business plan for Blackdog stop people coming to Aberdeen City Centre?
With the creation of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR), developers are looking to nearby land to create new communities.
But Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s deputy leader, has warned that the plans for Blackdog (near the AWPR and A90 Aberdeen and Peterhead) could cause commuter towns such as Ellon to “die off”.
She said: “We want there to be real cultural and shopping reasons to come to Aberdeen and developments like this could lead to less and less people coming into the city centre from other parts of the north-east.
“It will also help places like Ellon basically die off. It’s a vibrant town at the moment which residents have worked hard to create a community in.”
Is this really the case?
The Blackdog development is part of Energetica plans for a Scottish energy corridor, and is set to include a cinema, hotel and supermarket development, as well as 600 new homes.
Permission has already been granted for phase one of the plan, with properties starting to be built this year. Subject to planning permission being granted later this year, the work on the rest of the development will get underway in early 2017. Local house builder Kirkwood Homes and commercial developer Ashfield Land are set to deliver the project.
Energetica says that the aim for the new project is to create a ‘gateway’ to Aberdeenshire, with 1200 construction jobs over the life of the project and 1500 net additional full time jobs in the longer term.
Blackdog already exists as an industrial estate, but the introduction of new shops and leisure activities will provide a new base for those living nearby to explore – and that is what Marie is worried about.
It is worth noting that Marie is leading the 25-year city centre regeneration masterplan for Aberdeenshire.
I do not believe that the development will stop people coming into the Granite City itself.
The beauty of the North East is that it is a series of connected, but distinctive towns and villages, each with a sense of community. While Blackdog will offer a lot there is a great variety that the rest of the region has to offer – dolphin spotting in Buckie, castles in the shire and a host of outdoor pursuits. Aberdeen City Centre does not have any particular right to be protected from competition and towns such as Ellon will continue to be great places to live and work.