Page last updated at 09:02 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 10:02 UK

New heart of city secures backing

Plan of interior
The Aberdeen city centre project could cost more than 140m

Sir Ian Wood has said he is prepared to pledge £50m towards creating a "new heart" of Aberdeen city centre after a feasibility report was unveiled.

It could cost between £110m and £140m for planned raised gardens at Union Terrace and full covering over the Denburn dual carriageway.

Businessman Sir Ian said: "This project has the potential to make us the Houston of the Eastern Hemisphere."

The next stage will be public consultation on the plans.

Sir Ian Wood [Pic: The Press & Journal]
We have a real chance of making this happen and I believe we need to do it now before it is too late
Sir Ian Wood

The board of Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (Acsef) unanimously agreed that the project should be progressed to this next level after studying the completed report.

Sir Ian said: "The report and images present us with a real opportunity to become a world energy city.

"We need an exciting, vibrant city centre that captures and truly reflects the success, enterprise and energy of our people and our businesses if we are to anchor our existing international oil and gas community for the long-term, encourage new inward investment and attract people from all over the world.

"Our city centre should be a showcase for our region, offering something special and unique that allows us to compete with other world energy cities."

Aerial view of plan
The plans will now move to consultation with the public

He added: "We have a real chance of making this happen and I believe we need to do it now before it is too late."

Acsef chairman Tom Smith said: "There are huge challenges in taking such an ambitious project forward.

"It is technically feasible and the cost estimates are in the range originally envisaged but it will still require vision and determination.

"It provides a tantalising prize for us socially and economically and we must work together to win it."

First Minister Alex Salmond said: "I welcome the findings of the feasibility study and the progress made on the project.

"In difficult economic times it is even more important that we deliver on bold ideas and invest in infrastructure."

Sir Ian is chairman of the multi-million pound energy services firm, John Wood Group.

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