Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010

Views sought on new city square for Aberdeen

Protest at Union Terrace Gardens
A 'save me' protest was held at snow-covered Union Terrace Gardens

A public consultation has begun on controversial plans to create a civic square in the centre of Aberdeen.

Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (Acsef) said it wanted views on the £140m scheme, which would be built in the existing Union Terrace Gardens.

It has been criticised by supporters of a rival scheme - which already has planning permission.

Approval for Peacock Visual Arts' new centre in the gardens has already been given.

More than 4,000 people are said to have signed a petition in support of Peacock's project.

Image of Union Terrace Gardens plan
The City Square Project is backed by Sir Ian Wood

The union Unite has also raised concerns about the public cost of Acsef's City Square Project in the current economic climate.

City Square features a raised piazza and Acsef already has an offer of £50m from businessman Sir Ian Wood towards the cost, which is expected to be between £110m and £140m.

Acsef, a public-private development agency, said Aberdeen needed a vibrant, cultural civic space and gardens in the heart of the city.

Its chairman Tom Smith said: "We want as many people as possible across all sectors to get involved. It is only by obtaining a wide cross section of opinions that the most appropriate way forward can be reached."

The consultation will run for two months.

Plans for a new Peacock Visual Arts Contemporary Arts Centre in the same area are said to have been put in jeopardy by the scheme.

Aberdeen City Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Arts Council had already backed the Peacock plans.

Peacock said it was a "huge disappointment" the public consultation did not allow people the option to comment on a range of schemes for the site, and urged people to go to the website

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