Councillors approve £333m Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre



06a smallAberdeen’s £333 million Exhibition and Conference Centre has been given full approval by councillors.

Developer Henry Boot will build a new exhibition centre, a 200-bedroom hotel and clean energy power station on the site of the former Rowett Research Institute in Bucksburn.

The new AECC by Keppie Design will provide four times the current exhibition space and increase the seating capacity from 4,750 to 10,000. The council said the complex is expected to attract 31,000 new business tourists to Scotland every year.

The council’s development committee approved the project on Thursday after the financial plan was backed by the full council in March.

07 smallA separate application for planning permission in principle to build approximately 498 residential units with commercial space, a recycling centre and a park and ride facility on the existing AECC site at Bridge of Don, was also approved.

Aberdeen City Council’s convener of planning development management, Councillor Ramsay Milne, said: “The new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre will be a state-of-the-art facility that will help to ensure Aberdeen competes with other major cities, not just within Scotland and the UK, but internationally with other global energy capitals.

“The addition of the energy centre with the anaerobic digestion plant provides an innovative element to the project. It will provide power but also, along with the hotel, provide an income stream that will help to cover the cost of the development.”

AECC-Internal-View-of-Club-LoungeNick Harris, director of Henry Boot Developments, said: “I am absolutely delighted that our plans for the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, hotel and energy centre at Bucksburn were granted full planning permission today by Aberdeen City Council.

“This if fantastic news for Aberdeen and for Scotland and is a major milestone for this project, which will provide a platform for sustainable economic growth for this area.

“The AECC will deliver excellent architectural, urban and landscape design, providing a venue which is a key element of the business structure needed to promote Aberdeen as a World Energy City and the Energy Capital of Europe.

“Over the next ten years, the new AECC is expected to create hundreds of jobs, attract major artists to the city, and contribute an additional 4.5 million visitors, £113m of visitor spend and £63m net GVA to the Scottish economy.

“I am now looking forward to construction work commencing on the new AECC building so we can all see it progress over the coming months.”

06b smallThe new exhibition and conference centre will have a gross floor space of 45,000sqm, with subterranean space of 33,600sqm including a concourse and retail, leisure and restaurant use.

The building has been designed to provide many flexible spaces comprising a 9,000sqm multi-purpose arena that could host a large range of exhibition, entertainment and sporting events and a 6,000sqm multi-purpose sub-divisible exhibition hall and a number of conference facilities.

A 31,000sqm semi-subterranean space below the main central square will provide additional exhibition space for major events.

The 200-bedroom four-star hotel will connect to the AECC at ground floor concourse and first floor conference suite levels. The hotel will also have bars and restaurants as well as conference and spa facilities.

A range of income streams have been identified, including the hotel, car parking and energy centre.

The development costs have been significantly offset by the income streams – calculations of which have been based, in part, on industry standard occupancy figures for hotels.

06c smallThe energy centre will provide enough electricity, heating and cooling for the entire site, while the anaerobic digestion plant will generate an income by feeding bio-methane into the gas grid.

The income streams are expected to reduce the cost of the facility to an estimated average of £100,000 per year over the life of the 35-year strip lease.

At the end of the lease agreement, the council will be entitled to purchase the AECC development, including the land, for £1.

The annual subsidy paid for the existing facility at Bridge of Don will not be required for the new AECC, saving the council £1.3million per annum.

The decision to grant planning permission for the AECC at Bucksburn will be subject to a number of conditions, covering a range of areas including landscaping, access, noise mitigation, waste management and environmental protection.

The plans for the existing Bridge of Don site have been approved conditionally, with permission to be withheld pending suitable arrangements to secure affordable housing and developer contributions relating to primary education, community facilities, sports and recreation, open space and the Strategic Transport Fund.

The proposal will be subject to one or more further planning applications for the detailed scheme, which will be considered at a later date.

The conference centre is expected to open in late 2018.