Interview with Alan Simpson from Aberdeen City Council, 2012 SUMP Award winner

A city on the move: winner of the first Sustainable Urban Mobility Award, Aberdeen

In an interview with Alan Simpson, a planner from Aberdeen City Council, we talk  about what the award meant for the city, how they have continued their plans and  what advice they would give to other hoping to follow their lead.

How did receiving the award help raise visibility of your Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan?

When Aberdeen City Council won the Award, awareness of the SUMP increased  exponentially; not only was it widely reported in national and European forums but perhaps more importantly in regional and local media. Residents and stakeholders could then see how valued their contributions were and how they were shaping the Aberdeen SUMP.

Respondents had told us they wanted the Aberdeen of 25 years from now to be less “car-centric,” making it a more pleasant urban environment to live in. This led to the  City’s elected members to request a presentation on the results and they are now  considering areas to pedestrianise in the city centre. All of this action has led to more hits on our website and more likes on Facebook, meaning even more awareness of how citizens can get involved in the project.

How have you continued the project after receiving the award?

When we won the Award we were still in the initial consultation phases. We had  established a draft vision, aims and objectives and were actively encouraging the  public and stakeholders to tell us what they thought of these, as well as their general  views on the city centre. So we are continuing to use the feedback we have received  to shape our Plan and are currently developing a multimodal layered strategy.

The recognition we received through the Award has given more weight to the  principle of a SUMP and it is now considered a key piece of the forthcoming  City Development Plan. This places the SUMP at the centre of the plan to revitalise  the city centre.

What advice would you give to other cities looking to improve their  sustainable urban mobility?

We would advise other cities to establish a project team, covering different areas of  expertise. Our team consisted of transport, land use, engineering, road safety, traffic  management and business officers. We also invited transport and urban realm  professors from the University of Robert Gordon to provide specialist advice as well  as a benchmark of what other European cities are aspiring to. This led to a broad  range of views being represented helping in a more balanced Plan.

For the Aberdeen SUMP we also tried to engage rather than consult the public and  stakeholders. Instead of going to the public with a predetermined plan and ask them  to comment we went with a blank sheet of paper and tried to get their views before  starting.

We found that using social media such as a webpage, Facebook and Twitter in  tandem with more traditional methods, such as workshops and questionnaires, helped us reach a far larger audience as well as a wider one; we achieved a younger  demographic with social media who have less set views.

Overall its a lot of hard work pulling together everything but we are positive it will be  worth it and in 25 years Aberdeen will have a city centre that has been shaped by its  citizens and stakeholders.