Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 10:23 UK

Sir Ian Wood speaks on Aberdeen civic heart hopes

Sir Ian Wood [Pic: The Press & Journal]
Sir Ian Wood has pledged 50m in funding for the project

Businessman Sir Ian Wood has said he would be "disappointed" if councillors did not back plans for a new civic heart of Aberdeen.

The majority of people who took part in a consultation opposed the City Square plan, putting the project in doubt.

Proposals for the £140m development came with a pledge of £50m in funding from Sir Ian.

The council will consider options for the city centre on 19 May. Sir Ian said he hoped the plans would be supported.

Results of the consultation released last week showed 55% of 11,943 formal submissions received were against the City Square project, with 44% in support.

Sir Ian was abroad at the time, but has now said in a statement: "What is referred to as 'my vision' is in fact the vision, aspiration and hopes of many, many Aberdonians for the future economic and civic wellbeing of our city and region as North Sea oil winds down.

"The vision is to maximise the attractiveness of our city to win the new energy opportunities and become a world energy city.

"My offer of funds was to help achieve that, not to spruce up our city centre."

'Serious losers'

He explained: "My funds offer, spelt out in November 2008, was clearly conditional on achieving transformational change, and on Aberdeen City Council and the people of Aberdeen supporting the vision.

"I will be disappointed if Aberdeen City Council decide in their wisdom not to proceed with the transformational scheme.

Image of Union Terrace Gardens plan
The proposals have divided opinion in Aberdeen

"I believe the future citizens of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will be serious losers in terms of economic and employment opportunities and all possible steps must be taken now to ensure we don't go backwards.

"However, if that's the democratic choice, so be it."

An eight-week consultation was carried out into the Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (Acsef) plan.

Respondents said the most important facility for the area was formal gardens, followed by a contemporary arts centre and a cultural centre.

Arts body Peacock has separate plans for a £13m centre in the same area which have already been approved.

A Peacock spokesperson said after the consultation: "We are delighted to see that all of the major elements that people want to see - greater accessibility, green space and cultural facilities - will be delivered in Peacock's existing plans for Union Terrace Gardens at a fraction of the cost to the public purse and the environment."

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