City Centre and Beachfront Regeneration (Aberdeen)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 24 March 2021.

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Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

2. To ask the Scottish Government what support it will provide for the regeneration of the city centre and beachfront in Aberdeen. (S5O-05155)

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is committed to working with Aberdeen City Council and other partners as they take forward the city and beachfront master plan. The Government has demonstrated its commitment to Aberdeen and its city region through a variety of strategic investments including our £125 million commitment to the Aberdeen city region deal, the £62 million that has been committed to the energy transition fund, and the significant on-going capital funding for community-led regeneration.

The Government’s new £325 million place-based investment programme will provide further funding to Aberdeen over the next five years. The programme will help to link and align place-based investments, ensuring that there is a coherent approach to regeneration with the involvement and support of communities.

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I thank the cabinet secretary for that answer. I, too, wish her well after her term as a member of this Parliament and a minister. She will have heard, at First Minister’s question time, about the devastating news for Aberdeen city centre and its regeneration of the proposed closure of the John Lewis store on George Street, with the loss of 265 jobs. She may have heard, since then, that a petition has been launched, calling for John Lewis to reconsider that decision. I note that the Aberdeen economic partnership has offered to engage with the John Lewis Partnership to discuss ways in which the decision can be reconsidered.

Will the Scottish Government support that offer from the Aberdeen economic partnership? Will the cabinet secretary work with all concerned to seek to persuade John Lewis to reverse the decision?

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

I thank the member for his question. Like the First Minister, I share the disappointment about John Lewis’s plans and I appreciate that this will be an incredibly concerning time for the staff who are involved and their families. The First Minister also intimated that support would be available through the partnership action for continuing employment initiative. However, if further developments continue, it would be wise for the Government to continue to explore all options with regard to what can be done and to identify what actions, activity and support might be helpful in this space.

I point out that, in a more general sense, we have recognised that our high streets will be critical to our recovery. Today, along with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, we have published our response to the town centre action plan review, which I commend to Lewis Macdonald. The review was led by Professor Leigh Sparks, who is esteemed in that field, and I pay tribute to him for his work in the area.

We will work across Government to look at any options and opportunities that might exist, and we will engage with Lewis Macdonald as best we can. I put on record my thanks to him for all his contributions to the Parliament’s work and for being a strong voice for Aberdeen and the north-east for many years. I wish him well in the next chapter of his life.