Aberdeen plan a real thorn in Lennox's side

The singer is opposed to the makeover of her home city's Union Terrace Gardens

She has lent her powerful voice to some of the biggest humanitarian fights of the age, from the battle against Aids to demands for an end to Third World poverty. Now one of pop music's most successful and instantly recognisable divas is channelling her considerable campaigning zeal into a cause a little closer to home.

Annie Lennox yesterday lambasted plans to redevelop her native city of Aberdeen as architectural "vandalism". The singer, who left the Granite City in 1971 aged 16 to pursue her career at the Royal Academy of Music, has joined campaigners by fiercely criticising the proposed makeover of Union Terrace Gardens, describing them as "idiocy" and "madness".

Locals have attacked the scheme, being bankrolled by one of Aberdeen's richest businessmen, the oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood, for destroying the charm of the sunken green oasis and creating a Soviet-style civic plaza. Sir Ian has promised £50m of his own money to redevelop the site and raise the gardens to street level with the aim of returning it to popular use.

But writing on her MySpace blog, the former Eurythmics star, 55, said she would be adding her name to the more than 6,000 already included on a petition aiming to halt the plan, part of a £140m makeover of the city, and urged other Aberdonians to get involved.

She said: "For me, Union Terrace Gardens was, and still is, the green historical heart of the city. Like so many towns and cities all over the country, Aberdeen lost a great deal of its architectural heritage and charm through destruction by bulldozer and concrete.

"It made me sad then, and it still makes me sad. I hoped that this kind of 'vandalism' had peaked in the Sixties and Seventies, but for Aberdeen, it seems to be back with a vengeance. What idiocy and madness.

"Personally I think it should be down to the citizens of Aberdeen to decide whether they want to cover over the beautiful green heritage site at the heart if their city with concrete or not, I am only one voice, with one opinion, but perhaps my comments have helped to level up the debate, and take it out to the people themselves. There are just four weeks before a decision will be reached, and I would urge that everyone becomes proactive if they want to save Union Terrace Gardens".

Among the opponents to the scheme is Peacock Visual Arts, which had been granted full planning permission to build a £13.5m contemporary arts centre into the slopes of the gardens. Designed by the internationally celebrated architect Brisac Gonzalez, supporters have hailed the project as a potential Scottish Guggenheim which could regenerate the city as oil revenues decline.

The centre said it was "overwhelmed" by the singer's support. "Despite being a major international star, Annie's views still seem to reflect [those of] her fellow citizens of Aberdeen, who are inundating us daily with messages of concern about the future of their gardens and of Peacock," it added.

Tom Smith, the chairman of Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (Acsef), accused the "Sweet Dreams" singer, who has been based in London since 1971, of being out of touch.

Outlining his plans in 2008, Sir Ian, who is the chairman of one of Britain's biggest energy companies, the Wood Group, said he wanted to create a "cross between a grand Italian piazza and a mini Central Park". A two-month consultation on the scheme is due to end next month.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project