Robertson starts work on Aberdeen’s £333m conference centre



07 smallHenry Boot has reached an unconditional agreement with Aberdeen City Council for its new exhibition and conference centre, allowing Robertson Group to start work on the £333 million project.

The Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre (AECC) development, which will be funded by the council, received detailed planning permission at the end of last year.

Located on the 130 acre former Rowett Research Institute site adjacent to Aberdeen International Airport, the scheme will include a 12,500 capacity performance venue, extensive covered exhibition halls, a four-star 200 bed hotel to be operated under the Hilton Hotels brand together with an energy centre and 2,500 parking spaces.

This initial phase of the scheme will provide more than 800,000 sq ft of space and includes a development agreement for another 150 bed hotel, to be operated under the Aloft brand, which has also been exchanged, conditional upon the grant of detailed planning permission, expected later this year.

Main contractor Robertson Group has commenced work on site and development completion is expected in the first half of 2019. The Robertson contract will entail site preparation works, including ground and infrastructure works, as well as building the new arena and conference centre and one of the three on-site hotels.

The work is expected to create 600 new jobs, including a number of new apprenticeships.

Derek Shewan, chief operating officer for Robertson Group (left) and Nick Harris, director at Henry Boot Developments
Derek Shewan, chief operating officer for Robertson Group (left) and Nick Harris, director at Henry Boot Developments

Henry Boot Developments, the property development arm of the Group, has also secured planning permission for a further 400,000 sq ft of business park space on land adjoining the exhibition and conference centre, which will be serviced as part of the above scheme, and developed jointly with Aberdeen City Council.

Jamie Boot, chairman of Henry Boot PLC, said: “We are delighted to have been selected by the Aberdeen City Council to develop the city’s new exhibition and conference centre, four-star hotel and energy centre. This is a landmark agreement for Henry Boot Developments with development expected to be completed in 2019.

“It is very pleasing to see the larger commercial development schemes we have been preparing for some time now finally on site. We remain mindful of the challenges facing our industry after the result of the EU Referendum, taking into consideration this current market backdrop, we maintain a cautious outlook and as such the Board’s expectations remain unchanged.”

Nick Harris of Henry Boot Developments said: “Following the sod cutting last month, I am very pleased that we are now in a position to appoint Robertson Group as the contractor to deliver this vital project and I am looking forward to working with them over the next three years. We understand how important the new world-class Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre is to the economy in Aberdeen and the North East and are pleased to be appointing Robertson Group which has close historical and current links to the area.”

Bill Robertson, executive chairman of Robertson Group, added: “Robertson is delighted to have been selected as the main contractor on what will be an iconic venue for millions of visitors from all over the world. We have significant experience in delivering complex, high value, innovative, major projects across the country.

“Robertson has had a base in Aberdeen for over 25 years so we understand the local area. We will focus, where possible, on local employment, the local supply chain and working in partnership with the communities in the local area.”

Last year construction consultancy Turner & Townsend was appointed to project manage the first phase of construction and be responsible for the overall programme management of the masterplan while Keppie Design was appointed as architect.