Union Street To Re-Open To Public Transport

The central shopping section of Union Street will re-open to buses and taxis as soon as demolition works are completed on the frontage of the former BHS store. Assurance were given at the time of the initial closure in 2020 that this was being done on the grounds of public safety during the pandemic and it would be re-opened as soon as it was considered safe to do so.

In November last year, Labour and Conservative councillors proposed permanent closure to all traffic and the committee vote was tied 4-4 with a casting vote being needed to pass the proposals. They decided to maintain the ‘temporary closure’ status until such times as the permanent closure could go through the required legal processes.

Since November there has been much political wrangling with the proposals twice being blocked from being debated by the full council. There has also been a public outcry at a decision of this magnitude being approved by just 4 of the city’s 45 councillors. At a Special Council Meeting last month a majority of councillors voted to discuss the matter but that lacked the required two thirds majority.

The matter was up for discussion again on Monday 28 February and this time only a simple majority was required to change the previous decision. Councillors have now voted to re-open this section of Union Street to public transport only, as soon as possible. In effect that means as soon as the hoardings come down from the former BHS building, which should take around 12 weeks.

Kingswells, Sheddocksley & Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney, who voted to re-open the section of Union Street from Bridge Street to Market Street, said, “Pedestrianisation, when carried out in the right parts of the city centre can work particularly well, but we need to ensure that the heart of our city centre remains accessible to all our residents and closing off a section of our main street to public transport just doesn’t work for anyone”.

“In an ideal world we would all like to see the whole City Centre pedestrianised, but we don’t have the luxury of a city built on a grid, so there’s no parallel streets to take the traffic. The temporary closure of the past 22 months has lengthened journey times significantly, which must also be adding significantly to pollution, especially around Guild Street and the Harbour”.

“People are taking longer to get to and from work and the experience is such that anyone visiting the city centre for shopping or for pleasure is unlikely to be coming back any time soon, as it is no pleasure being stuck on a bus entering Aberdeen’s very own Bermuda Triangle, never knowing if you’ll see the other side”.

“The enforced closure has also shown that disability access to Union Street Central , as it’s now being called, is not something that can easily be mitigated against. To close off this section of Union Street makes it a no-go area for many people with limited mobility due to the the lack of Blue Badge parking, the positioning of bus stops, the walking distances, the inclines on Market Street and Bridge Street and much more. People just can’t get where they want to go. As a city we should be removing barriers faced by people with disabilities rather than constructing new ones”.

“I am pleased to see common sense prevail at last. I’m just disappointed it took so long to happen and I still struggle to understand how anyone could have dreamt this up, given the plain to see traffic chaos it has caused over nearly two years”.

The changed priorities will come into effect once the hoardings come down from the former BHS building. The effect of this change will be that buses and taxis (including private hire cars) will be permitted to travel through this section of road but other vehicles will not. There will be bus gates at either end to prevent other vehicles from entering ‘Union Street Central’ but the much hated bus gate on Market Street will be removed, bringing both Market Street and the section of Union Street from Market Street to King Street back into full use for all vehicles.