Dreaming of a Green and Granite Mile

Dreaming of a Green and Granite Mile

Union Street pedestrianisation feels like an endless battle. Some people think it is the only way forward for our city centre, while others think it would be the death knell of the Granite Mile. The team here at POST would love to see a green and granite mile.

Councillors have been using it as a political football. Either screaming that it would disadvantage the elderly or people with disabilities or claiming that they did everything in their power to get it done (but waited until the last few days before they were voted out of power).

So why do we think it needs to happen?

Stop fighting against progress

The high street is dying. It’s happening all across the UK, not just in Aberdeen. People are choosing to shop in shopping centres or online. Nobody is at fault for this. People just have busy lives and convenience will almost always win.

That battle is lost, so let’s stop fighting against it. What do we do instead? We create spaces for people.

In Aberdeen, we have an opportunity to change the city centre from a four-lane road into a street-level, urban park. A green and granite mile. Somewhere that people can meet before heading off shopping. Somewhere to stop and listen to buskers while grabbing a coffee and lunch from a food truck, bar or café

Could this be part of the green and granite mile?

A green and granite space that would link up with the refurbished Union Terrace Gardens and give us a city centre that we can all be proud of. Some have spoken of putting a roof over the top to keep the weather at bay. Why the hell not? Add into that good environmentally friendly lighting so the fun doesn’t stop at sunset.

We need to stop chasing big chains and start supporting and encouraging our many exciting local small businesses to take the next step into the high street. There are so many here in the city that feels locked out right now.

A space for people – the green and granite mile

But if we build a proper space for people, a space where people actually want to visit, then the business will return to fill the void that is there now. Because why wouldn’t they want a piece of that action?

And yes, we do need to make this new space inclusive. People should have as much access to a pedestrianised Union Street as they do any park in the city. Nearby bus stops and accessible pathways are extremely important.

While we’re at it, let’s build a proper cycle network around the city so people can get into town cleanly and safely. And maybe change one of those car parks into a safe and secure bike park?

We just need some imagination courage and determination to make the change…or we’ll be sitting reading another tweet storm like this in ten years and pointing fingers about who’s to blame for yet another dead city centre street. It doesn’t need to be like this.

Let’s push to make Aberdeen amazing, and stop using our energy to find reasons to sit on our hands and do nothing. Let’s build the green and granite mile.

This post was originally a Twitter thread that, let’s be honest, got too long and cumbersome.

Update: 21 Nov 2022

Since we posted this, we saw this fantastic TED Talk from Amanda Burden about how public spaces make cities work. Amanda is talking about New York, but her theory feels relevant to what we wrote.

About POST

Kevin Mitchell and Chris Sansbury founded POST. This was from a desire to cut through the noise to share the great things that happen in Aberdeen. They focus on community, culture and also the interesting people of the city. The local artists, businesses and charities; photographers, musicians and entertainers. These are the people that make a positive impact on our city every day. So they use video, audio, writing and social media to amplify the voices in our community. And to ultimately give a platform to Aberdeen folk to engage and tell their own stories.

Recent work includes coverage of Spectra 2023, interviews with We Are Here Scotland founder Ica Headlam; Paralympic gold medalist, Neil Fachie; Aberdeen rapper Chef and his push for success; an article about the pedestrianisation of Union Street; coverage of Nuart Aberdeen and TEDx Aberdeen, as well as coverage of the campaign to Save the Belmont.

We are independent and entirely self funded. We just about cover our costs, but if you would like to help support our work, you could buy us a coffee.