Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Retail Study

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils jointly appointed Gravis Planning to provide a comprehensive update of the review of the retail and leisure sectors in north east Scotland from 2023-2038, in support of both Councils’ evidence bases for their emerging Local Development Plans (LDPs).


Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils




Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire



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Our Involvement

The two Councils in north east Scotland have a total population of close to 500,000 and form a critical part of the country's economic base. The area includes remote highland glens in the Cairngorms, two of the largest fishing ports in Europe in Fraserburgh and Peterhead, major commuter settlements in Aberdeenshire as well as the City of Aberdeen. Aberdeen itself is a city of contrasts, including one of the UK’s oldest universities while experiencing tremendous economic and population growth with the North Sea oil boom that started in the 1970s. It remains a key international centre for offshore engineering and technology and for the energy sector generally.

The retail and leisure study therefore needed to embrace a huge range and variety of types of retail and leisure activity to assess future needs.

Issues Encountered

  • Identifying long term trends in the retail and leisure sectors noting, in particular, the implications that all parts of the study area are remote from other parts of the UK with high distribution network costs.
  • Use of a very extensive household survey (2,500 interviews) identifying both behavioural and attitudinal information for retail and leisure activity.
  • Detailed analysis of retail and leisure floorspace using Regional Assessor data.
  • The development of a strategic retail model identifying changes in expenditure and turnover to 2038.
  • Identifying the need and viability of local retail and service floorspace in major expansion areas, in both Aberdeen City and smaller towns in Aberdeenshire.

This culminated in a series of recommendations for the retail strategies in the emerging LDPs of both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Council, to ensure that they were designed to meet the needs of all communities within the study area. The final report was submitted to Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils in June 2024.

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