An expert in city planning has questioned the decision to build another office block at Dundee Waterfront.
Groundwork is currently underway to create a six-storey building at Site 6 alongside one controversially completed next door in the same plot in 2019.
Urban design expert Dr Husam AlWaer says the council should back up its claims that there is “unmet demand” for high quality offices.
And as well as commercial space, he says the waterfront development should contain many more flats to bring it to life.
Dr AlWear, a reader in architecture and urban planning at Dundee University, said: “Has there been any real independent appraisal about supply versus demand in Dundee?
“Without one, we could end up with this office block being built and there’s no need for it.
“They may work as offices, don’t get me wrong.
“But there is a danger some businesses located elsewhere in the city may just move to the waterfront because it’s nice and brand new.
“That means we then create a crisis in the city centre for example.
“The city centre has a lot of empty office buildings and it is already suffering.”
30-year waterfront masterplan progress
Aside from the site for the V&A museum, the only plot to be developed as a building at the central waterfront is Site 6 and it is yet to see any guaranteed private investment.
The original 30-year masterplan for the £1 billion regeneration envisages the whole area being completed by 2031.
The first office block at Site 6 was without a tenant for more than a year before Social Security Scotland made the buildings its headquarters in 2020.
Many staff now work in a hybrid model spending allocated days working at home and at the office.
Dr AlWaer says the waterfront is so far falling short of what it was originally envisaged to be.
He said as well as offices, it was meant to be a mixed-use area with flats and commercial units such as shops.
He said: “There are bigger questions to be asked now and the council has to address them.
“The key one is: what is the role of the city centre versus the role of the waterfront?
“These two areas really need to talk to each other.
‘Let’s make living there a reality’
“We should see the centre and the waterfront as one entity.
“What worries me now is we are giving permission for offices and we are forgetting the living aspect of the area.”
The comments come after a Dundee property expert backed the plan, saying it could create jobs.
But Dr AlWaer believes the waterfront so far lacks balance.
“OK, we need some commercial activities; that’s fine,” he said. “But why not have 33% living, 33% offices, and 33% commercial?
“Let’s make living there a reality.
“I remember Mike Galloway (the former head of city development at the council and one of the main figures behind the waterfront regeneration) was very keen for it to be a mixed use area.
“I am not against having more offices but let’s get that balance between living, working, and commercial.”
Now two office blocks have been approved at the central waterfront, Dr AlWaer says this could make it legally difficult for the council to reject any similar plans in that area.
This is because the principle of building office blocks in the waterfront area has now been authorised and if rejected, a planning appeal taken to the Scottish Government would likely be successful.
He said: “One of the real dangers is that if you give permission for offices then that opens the door for more of the same.
“The council may find it difficult to reject similar applications because of this.
“Suddenly the whole waterfront could be full of offices in that case.”