SCDI made a verbal submission at the Aberdeen City Council - Aberdeen FC Stadium - Kingsford Pre-Determination Planning Hearing on 13 Sept.2017.

Speaking on behalf of SCDI, Ian Armstrong, NE Regional Director said:

"Convener many thanks for the opportunity to speak today and to present SCDI's views to this important Hearing. Clearly with the potential significance which this application has for the area it is right and proper that the Councillors making the decision get to hear as wide a range of views as possible before making their ultimate determination next month. I am also pleased that you took the trouble, and I believe faced the elements, to undertake a site visit earlier this week.

"It is SCDI's view that the proposed training, community and stadium facilities at Kingsford are a great opportunity for Aberdeen to once again demonstrate leadership in driving economic growth, a principal aim of both the UK and Scottish Governments, and something that is strongly supported by my own organisation.

"In pursuit of that common economic goal, when developing our recent and well received SCDI Blueprint for Scotland's Economy, 'From Fragile to Agile', we promoted the need for regulation in Scotland to be flexible and agile to support growth.

"No site will ever be perfect for such a new development, nor be free from legitimate concerns. However, given the prolonged and unsuccessful efforts by the Football Club to identify a suitable city centre location, it is our view that at this vitally important time in the development and diversification of the North East's economy, that the Local Authority needs to place greater importance than ever on the need for flexibility of policy thinking to attract and retain investment in the area. SCDI would strongly support such agile application of policy to the development of new facilities at Kingsford.

"The potential development of a sports stadium and accompanying suite of high quality community sports facilities, wholly funded by the private sector, is a great opportunity for Aberdeen and can play a significant role in boosting investment in the area by heightening its positive profile, representing another major vote of confidence in the region's long-term future. To reject this application would send negative signals to the wider investment community at a critical time when the city and region needs to be as open as it has ever been to new and diversified income streams not directly linked to the energy sector.

"There is a lot for the City Council to consider when looking at the detailed proposals and we are conscious there will be further dialogue with the Football Club and Community Trust prior to the final determination scheduled for next month. Amidst all of that though, SCDI believes the central guiding objective must be to facilitate development which enhances the area and, by doing so, acts as a catalyst for the attraction of further hard cash and ultimately jobs into the City. A clear focus on that objective leads SCDI to support this Application and we would urge the Council to do likewise.

"In summary - we consider the opportunity afforded the City and wider Region by the Kingsford plans is one that is too good to miss. The nature and longevity of the current downturn in the oil and gas sector must focus the minds of the planners and politicians in the City. Whilst there will be recovery, the peak days of investment and employment from that industry are over and it is essential that we crack on and speed up the economic diversification of the area, and its offering, to future investors and citizens.

"There is much to be positive about in the area, with long awaited transport infrastructure now being delivered, a new Exhibition Centre rapidly emerging from the ground and the refreshed 'Events 365' strategy helping change external perceptions of the City.

"Change is always difficult and often it seems to be particularly difficult in the North East. The incomes derived from the oil and gas industry have undoubtedly benefited many businesses in the North East and many individuals. It cannot be right though that communities and individuals who benefited from the region's past economic success regularly try to block the investment which will enable future prosperity and growth, whether that be the AWPR, Marischal Square or Kingsford.

"We cannot preserve our surrounds and environment in aspic, instead we need to embrace and accelerate the process of change which the City and Region will need to ensure future generations will have the same opportunities as many of my generation and older have had.

"So, on behalf of SCDI, I would say to the Council - let's not be afraid of change, in fact give it a big bosie, keep the foot to the pedal of progress and approve this major investment in training, community and stadium facilities. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to put forward our views."