Imported Chinese granite to be used for Marischal Square development

marischal square aerial 862Developers behind the Marischal Square regeneration project in Aberdeen defended their decision to use granite from China rather than locally sourced stone.

It has emerged the £107 million city centre project will use 180 tons of rock from the Far East despite the stone being synonymous with the Granite City.

Offices and a hotel are to be built on the site of the former council HQ, opposite the second-largest granite building in Europe, Marischal College.

The decision has sparked criticism from opponents, with Bill Skidmore, of the Reject Marischal Square group, saying: “Importing cheap Chinese granite for a building opposite the magnificent Marischal College is sacrilege and adds insult to injury.”

SNP councillor Graham Dickson, who voted against the development, added: “This is another huge disappointment from Marischal Square – not only are we getting an eyesore but it won’t even contain local materials.”

And Randald Rennie, of local supplier A&J Robertson Granite, believes the Labour-led council “should have looked at using reclaimed granite”.

He added: “It may have cost a little more but it would have been much more in keeping with our heritage.”

Muse Developments, the firm behind the project, insisted it held an “exhaustive tendering protest” before deciding to source the materials from China, while a council spokesman said the sourcing of materials was a matter for the contractor.

The city’s Rubislaw quarry closed down in 1971 but sites in Kemnay and Corrennie in Aberdeenshire still produce the stone for building developments.

The granite is expected to arrive at Aberdeen harbour in the spring.

Despite the controversy, a local granite merchant defended the decision.

John Forbes of Bon Accord Granite said: “What people don’t understand is we haven’t built a major building out of north-east granite for the last 30 years, at least. It’s down to price. If I don’t supply Chinese granite, others will.”

Earlier this month Muse revealed that Aberdeen-based companies will benefit from an additional £4m of new business during the project’s construction phase.

The new contracts, which will take effect from January next year, follow an earlier spend of £11m with local business on the project.

More than 50 local businesses are in discussion with Marischal Square construction and infrastructure contractor, Morgan Sindall, to provide a range of new services for the development, including the supply of joinery, flooring, tiling, scaffolding and cleaning services during the 116-week construction programme.

There are a total of 21 work packages currently available for the development and more than 60 local representatives of the firms involved have been in face-to-face discussions with the Morgan Sindall team at a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event to gain additional information around the opportunities available.

Muse regional director for Scotland, Steve Turner, said the move was a ‘win-win’ situation for all involved.

“The ambition from day one was to make Marischal Square work for all involved and deliver a transformational development which would provide significant employment and business opportunities for this vital city centre area,” he added.

“By talking to local businesses first, they too can share in the investment we are making in Marischal Square and if that helps sustain or create new jobs in the process then the development will already be making a positive impact on the economy in Aberdeen.

“We believe the mix of Grade ‘A’ office space, bar/restaurant facilities and the greatly improved environment around Provost Skene’s House will be in the right place at the right time to deliver opportunities for the city and we are delighted to have local companies help us make that happen.”

Marischal Square will open in the summer of 2017.

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