Meadowbank move clears its final hurdles but public trust has fallen

Edinburgh's 'brutalist' 1960s former Commonwealth Games arena at Meadowbank is to get a multi-million pound overhaul.  Picture: JANE BARLOW
Edinburgh's 'brutalist' 1960s former Commonwealth Games arena at Meadowbank is to get a multi-million pound overhaul. Picture: JANE BARLOW
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Meadowbank Stadium will have a “fit for purpose” sports centre after councillors approved plans for an overhaul of the iconic former Commonwealth Games arena.

Members of Edinburgh City Council’s development management sub-committee also agreed to grant planning permission in principle for the site around the former stadium to be used for mixed use including housing. A masterplan for the site will be produced in partnership with residents and groups after the authority was forced into an apology over a flawed consultation process.

We have a way to go in regaining the trust of the local community

ELAINE SCOTT

The council-funded sports centre project will cost around £47 million and construction could start before the end of the year. The committee heard from James Lumsden, vice-chairman of Edinburgh City Football Club, who had been based at Meadowbank for 22 years until the stadium shut its doors in December.

The new plans for Meadowbank would see capacity reduced from 8,000 to just 500 as the grandstand is to be demolished – potentially a stumbling block for the club’s ambition to rise through the football league system. But the council said they had assurances from the Scottish Professional Football League that the plans would meet bronze standards – allowing games to be held at Meadowbank.

Officers agreed to look at the capacity needs of Edinburgh City in the future. Councillors Chas Booth and Neil Ross opposed the proposals due to three elm trees having to be removed, as well as claims from residents that there would be a 40 per cent reduction in sports facilities. Council officers said there was “significant new tree planting” as part of the plans.

Councillors heard from Mark Munro from Scottish Athletics, who welcomed the proposals – stating the plans improved athletics facilities.

He said: “Meadowbank is an iconic venue for athletics – however, it has fallen behind the times.

“It’s crucial that this investment and these proposals go ahead.”

Earlier, Elaine Scott, the council’s housing services manager apologised for flaws in the initial consultation with residents and groups in relation to the overall site use at Meadowbank.

Ms Scott said that the consultation process has “fallen short with what is needed” and that the failings were “unintentional and regrettable”.

She added: “We have a way to go in regaining the trust of the local community.”

Council Leader Cllr Adam McVey said: “This is great news for the future of sport in the city. The redevelopment is an investment in the future health and well-being of our citizens and will see Meadowbank retain its position as the flagship site for sport in Edinburgh.”

Campaigners from the Save our Stadium group protested outside the City Chambers before the meeting.