Page last updated at 20:28 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 21:28 UK

Rock star Annie Lennox enters Aberdeen Gardens debate

Annie Lennox
Lennox was born and brought up in Aberdeen

Rock star Annie Lennox has written to every Aberdeen councillor ahead of a vital vote next week on the future of Union Terrace Gardens.

She has asked them to reject plans by oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood to create a new civic square in her home city.

Lennox said to carry on with the project would be an act of civic vandalism and abandonment of democracy.

Acsef, the body supporting the plans, said they were delighted the singer was taking such an interest in the city.

Council officials are recommending that councillors back the £140m City Square civic area plans, which have been supported by £50m from businessman Sir Ian.

To carry on with the City Square would be an act of civic vandalism and abandonment of democracy
Annie Lennox

The council will consider options for the city centre on 19 May.

In the letter to councillors, which has also been posted on her official website, the 55-year-old former Eurythmics vocalist said was writing as a "former resident who maintains strong links to the city."

She added: "I urge you then on 19 May to listen to your electorate and reject plans to take the unpopular City Square project any further.

"Over £300,000 of public money has been spent asking the people what they think. They have responded with a resounding 'No' to losing their Garden, 'No' to spending £90m of public money on this project in a time of cuts to vital services and 'No' to losing the deliverable and sensitive plans of a new arts centre within the existing Gardens."

A 10,000-strong petition against plans to transform the Gardens was handed over to the city council on Thursday.

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

'Difficult decision'

A spokeswoman for Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (Acsef) said: "Our city councillors will no doubt be inundated by similar letters from those in opposition to the scheme in a bid to influence their decision.

"However they also have the recommendation from their officials who have fully studied all the issues facing our city centre and have set the City Square project in that overall context.

"Next week, they have to make a very important and difficult decision and we hope they take everything into consideration and vote in the interests of the longer-term, economic future.

"Acsef is delighted that Ms Lennox is now showing significant interest in her home town and we hope that she will continue to support other initiatives with visits and perhaps even a concert in the city."

Meanwhile, a leading architectural institute fears Scottish architects could be frozen out if Sir Ian's plans for the civic square proceed.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland said it was concerned international designers would be preferred in a design competition.

But Acsef said any competition would be open to all.

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