Velodrome demolition puts entire Meadowbank plan in doubt

Edinburgh Council’s controversial decision to demolish the Meadowbank velodrome in advance of a promised consultation has put the entire development in doubt following claims doing so broke planning conditions.

When the Council’s planning sub-committee approved the Meadowbank plan on 29 June it imposed six conditions. They required a masterplan to be agreed “for the entire site” with “all details relevant pertaining to the sports centre site”. Also, a detailed layout of the site had to be approved “before any work on a site which forms part of an identified sub-site development plot is commenced”.

“Only two documents were approved as part of the application,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Heather Peacock.

“One was for a site perimeter fence. The other was a location plan which covers the entire Meadowbank site, not just a sub-section of it.

“The conditions agreed by the committee specifically require a detailed layout of the site to be approved, including all details for the sports centre, before work can start on any sub-site.

“Demolishing the velodrome and several outbuildings counts as work as does making significant changes to the Stadium grandstand. The sports centre is also a sub-site which means work should not have started on it until a masterplan is agreed.

“By starting work prior to this being done the Council has breached the conditions set for the application. This breach has been referred to the Council’s planning department for enforcement action to be taken. This includes a request that the application be rejected due to breach of planning conditions.

“Edinburgh Council must also stop all work on the site until this mess is cleared up.”

Planning conditions relating to the planning application for the entire site are listed in the following documents which are published on the Edinburgh Council planning portal:

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Meadowbank medallist’s velodrome vision

Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Callum Skinner has published his vision of what should replace the Meadowbank velodrome, and campaigners say his idea should be considered as part of the current ‘fresh start’ consultation for the site.

The Meadowbank velodrome has this week been controversially demolished by Edinburgh Council in advance of a new consultation about what should replace it. This has prompted responses on social media from Olympic medallists Callum Skinner and Chris Hoy, and critical comment from Judy Murray.

Now Skinner, who grew up in Edinburgh and developed his talents at the popular Meadowbank facility, has called on Edinburgh Council to replace it with a 250 metre track, ideally covered to allow for the Scottish weather.

On his website http://www.callumskinner.com/meadowbank/ he refers to the Dudenhofen track in Germany which he says “presents significant advantages over many outdoor tracks that currently exist in the UK.

“The banking is steep enough for any speed achievable on a bike in competition or motorbike training.

“From a rider development point of view it is as close to a competition standard 250m velodrome (Glasgow, Manchester, London) you can get within our constraints.

“The smaller size of this track could mean that a covering could be added post construction.

“If the council build anything over 250 metres the cost for an enclosure balloons and becomes more unrealistic. Covered indoor concrete 250 metre velodromes are more common than you might think. Bellville Velodrome in South Africa is a good example.

“Ultimately I hope that when times are less austere at the council a covering could be built and Edinburgh will have the velodrome it deserves.”

Campaigners have welcomed his input. “The previous velodrome at Meadowbank created more world champions than Hampden and Murrayfield combined. Very few sporting facilities in the country even run it close,” said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock.

“Edinburgh needs a velodrome and there is no better site for one than the current location. Edinburgh Council has agreed to a fresh consultation about the Meadowbank site, starting from a clean slate with nothing ruled in and nothing ruled out which includes the option of retaining a velodrome at Meadowbank.

“Callum Skinner’s vision would fit on the Meadowbank site. Now the Council has demolished the old facility it should be very straightforward for it to build a replacement one on the same site.”

Velodrome artwork should have been preserved, say campaigners

Any demolition of the Meadowbank velodrome should have been done in such a way as to preserve artwork and allow parts to be retained as souvenirs, according to campaigners and local residents.

Edinburgh Council started the controversial demolition despite the planning application for the site preventing them from doing so until a full consultation has taken place and a masterplan agreed. This has prompted responses on social media from Olympic athletes Callum Skinner and Chris Hoy, and critical comment from Judy Murray.

“It is bad enough for the Council to do with this before it has even started the promised consultation,” said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock. “But to go about it in such an uncontrolled fashion makes it worse.

“The artwork on the velodrome was legendary. Any demolition should have been done in such a way to preserve this artwork. Unceremoniously ripping it down just demonstrates again how little Edinburgh Council appreciates both sport and art.

“The campaign is also disappointed to note comments on social media that the Council has refused to let people obtain parts of the site as a souvenir.

“This building was one of Scotland’s most successful sporting facilities. Meadowbank has created more world champions than Hampden and Murrayfield combined. Very few sporting facilities in the country even run it close.

“The Meadowbank velodrome has been much loved and shamefully neglected. The very least Edinburgh Council could have done is allow parts of it to be retained by those who did care for it.”

Local resident Suzy Bacchini Gow took to Facebook to write: “We asked to have it taken down in a way to reuse the wood. Many people wanted to buy a section, including Sir Chris Hoy. Guess the council want it down to make a point.”

Katie Ford tweeted: “Surely there must be a way of auctioning pieces of the track to go back into @ScottishCycling development?”

Simon Ennor added: “Surely they could have sold that off, strip by strip, to enthusiasts? Some new garden decking, a new table, some wall art. Just to own a piece of that would be amazing! Such a waste!”

Harry Wragg commented: “All part of a disgraceful piece of vandalism by Edinburgh City Council against many sports.”

‘Sad’ Judy Murray joins Meadowbank debate as campaigners request investigation of how Council spent tennis fire insurance money

Judy Murray has joined the debate on Edinburgh Council’s plan to downsize its sports facilities at Meadowbank.

Responding to Chris Hoy’s tweet about the demolition of the Meadowbank velodrome, Judy Murray wrote: “So sad. We have an obesity crisis and need more sports facilities, not less. There was once 3 indoor tennis courts at Meadowbank. They were burnt down many years ago and never replaced.”

Campaigners welcomed her intervention and called on Edinburgh Council to take advantage of the fresh start on the future of the Meadowbank site by including tennis in the new masterplan.

“When Edinburgh Council’s planning sub-committee met on 29 June, it agreed it had failed to consult properly on its plans for the Meadowbank Stadium site,” explained Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock. “It agreed a fresh consultation was required, starting from a clean slate with nothing ruled in and nothing ruled out which includes the option of restoring tennis facilities at Meadowbank.

“The tennis facilities were lost in 1990 when the building was destroyed by fire. Edinburgh Council claimed money from its insurance company following this fire yet the facilities at Meadowbank were never replaced.

“We call for a full investigation of what happened to this insurance payment and whether correct procedures were followed in not using any of this money to rebuild the tennis courts at Meadowbank.”

Council broken promise makes it a “sad day” for Chris Hoy

Edinburgh Council has gone back on a pledge it made by starting to demolish Meadowbank’s velodrome, prompting Scotland’s most successful Olympic athlete to describe it as a “sad day”.

“When Edinburgh Council’s planning sub-committee met on 29 June, it agreed it had failed to consult properly on its plans for the Meadowbank Stadium site,” explained Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock. “It agreed a fresh consultation was required, starting from a clean slate with nothing ruled in and nothing ruled out which includes the option of retaining a velodrome at Meadowbank.

“More specifically, it also agreed no work would be carried out until a full consultation had concluded and a Masterplan agreed for the entire site.

“Yet last week the bulldozers moved in to knock down two out buildings, remove flashing from the grandstand and then, on Friday, to start demolishing the velodrome.

“This is a massive breach of promise and puts in doubt the entire consultation, which is only just about to start.

“Edinburgh Council must stop all work on the site as per the agreement reached on 29 June until such time as the promised consultation has taken place and a Masterplan produced.”

Chris Hoy gave his immediate reaction on twitter. Scotland’s most successful Olympian of all time, who featured in a Save Meadowbank campaign video issued during the Beijing Olympics and who has previously said he owed everything to the Meadowbank track and the volunteers who ran it, said it made him feel both “sad” and “weird”.

He wrote: “Sad day. End of an era for Meadowbank Velodrome. So many memories, so many friendships all thanks to this place.”

https://twitter.com/chrishoy/status/1028002666700566530

A fellow Olympic gold medalist posted a picture on himself on the site. Callum Skinner wrote: “This historic venue is finally meeting its end. Much of @BritishCycling @TeamGB @Team_Scotland success can be attributed in some part to this track. The host of 2 @thecgf”

https://twitter.com/CallumSkinner/status/1027962451285999616

Chris Hoy responded with: “Feels weird ‘liking’ that post”

https://twitter.com/chrishoy/status/102800352943111373

Meadowbank sports centre rebuild faces £27.7 million funding gap

Edinburgh Council faces a £27.7 million funding gap following its decision to go back to the drawing board with controversial plans to build hundreds of homes on the Meadowbank Stadium site.

In January 2018 the Council lodged two planning applications with itself. One was to build a smaller sports centre on half the site while the other sought outline planning permission for the change of land use necessary to build commercial and residential properties on the other half. Both applications were approved by its planning sub-committee last Friday but only after Council planners withdrew all detail from the outline planning application and the committee agreed it should start again with a clean slate.

However that means the project to build a replacement sports facility now faces uncertainty because most of the funding was to come from the hundreds of homes that were due to be built.

“This is clear in documents submitting in support of the planning application,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Heather Peacock.

“Sections 6.39 and 6.42 of the supporting planning statement confirm ‘the funding package is predicated on developing the surplus sites for housing and mixed uses’

“The last update provided to councillors also shows the stadium re-build cost of £46.9 million relies upon £27.7 million from housing and commercial development on the other half of the site.

“The decision to go back to the drawing board is a welcome one but it now means the Council has to find £27.7 from other sources.”

Campaign welcomes Council apology and commitment to Meadowbank masterplan with no pre-conditions

Campaigners have welcomed Edinburgh Council’s decision to apologise and go back to the beginning with its plan to build hundreds of homes on the Meadowbank Stadium site.

At Friday’s planning meeting Council planners withdrew all detail from the outline planning application which allowed the committee to agree it should start again with a clean slate without any pre-conditions. The committee also guaranteed nothing would take place until a masterplan had been agreed with full community engagement.

“We welcome their frank admission that the community felt let down and that there was a loss of trust in the Council,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Heather Peacock.

“The offer to re-start the process this time with genuine consultation is great news. We also appreciate the assurance that an entirely new masterplan will be created from a complete clean sheet which will include no assumptions about possible land use.

“Several Councillors at Friday’s planning committee meeting expressed a wish to restore trust with a community that feels badly let down. We welcome this.

“The plan to build 360 homes on the site, some up to 12 storeys high, has been officially scrapped.

“We look forward to future dialogue with the Council and the creation of a masterplan for the site that truly meets the needs and wishes of the local community.

“We also thank local Conservative Councillor John McLelland who has obviously listened to the views of his constituents in changing his mind and urging his colleagues to reject the planning application.”