Housing appointment throws into doubt Council’s ‘blank canvas’ pledge for Meadowbank

Edinburgh Council has been criticised by campaigners for appointing a Housing Construction Project Manager to work on the Meadowbank Stadium site while a promised consultation is still taking place.

When the Council’s planning sub-committee met on 29 June it agreed the outline planning application for the entire site should start again with a clean slate and nothing ruled in or out. The committee also guaranteed nothing would take place until a masterplan had been agreed with full community engagement.

“The consultation has just started and no masterplan agreed,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Heather Peacock. “Yet we have now been told the Council has appointed a Housing Construction Manager, Nick Cairns, as part of a team to progress a mixed use development on the site, and the Housing Department is to take forward the consultation.

“Council officials had to apologise to the planning sub-committee for the way the process had been handled. Councillors made clear the project had to be taken forward with an entirely new masterplan created from a clean sheet which will include no assumptions about possible land use.

“This means the consultation must come first and appointments should follow. Any such role for a Housing Construction Project Manager would only be appropriate once the masterplan is complete and only if agreement is reached to build housing on the site.

“We are willing to work with the Council to create a masterplan for the site that truly meets the needs and wishes of the local community. But the Council also has a lot to do to win back the trust of the community, which will only take longer when appointments like this are made and decisions taken to let the Housing Department take the lead prior to the promised consultation concluding.”

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Meadowbank land transfer to housing proves Council made decision before consultation even started

Edinburgh Council has been criticised by campaigners for transferring land on the Meadowbank Stadium site to its housing department eight months before it started consulting on the option.

The land transfer emerged following a freedom of information request in which “all documents covering the transfer of land within any part of the Meadowbank Stadium site to the City of Edinburgh Council Housing department” were requested including “minutes, e-mail, correspondence and identify who made the decision, when and how implemented”. The response said “We do not hold the information you requested about the decision” but Council papers attached to the reply suggest the transfer was agreed on 10 March 2016.

The initial public consultation on what should happen with the Meadowbank Stadium site took place in November and December 2016. The sports centre closed on 3 December 2017 prior to two planning applications being submitted in January 2018.

“Edinburgh Council should be ashamed of how it has acted with this land transfer,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Heather Peacock. “The consultation should have come first with everything following from that. Instead we find the land was first transferred to the housing department before the public was even asked to comment.

“That is utterly unacceptable and shows how officials have been driving an agenda which our elected councillors seem unable to control.

“It is also unacceptable for Edinburgh Council to claim it has no record of who made this decision and when, especially when paperwork attached to its reply appear to show the transfer was approved in March 2016.”

Edinburgh Council’s planning sub-committee agreed on 29 June 2018 that outline planning application for the entire site should start again with a clean slate and nothing ruled in or out. The committee also guaranteed nothing would take place until a masterplan had been agreed with full community engagement.

A fresh consultation on the entire Meadowbank site is currently underway and runs until 31 October 2018.

FOI response letter:
FOI – Land transfer

Document dated 10 March 2016 which includes reference to the land transfer on page 2:
Item_8.5___Funding_Package_Proposal_for_a_New_Meadowbank

 

Meadowbank housing admission shows consultation is just a “sham”

Edinburgh Council has been criticised by campaigners for admitting it still plans to build more than 300 flats on the Meadowbank Stadium site while a consultation on the controversial plan is still taking place.

When the Council’s planning sub-committee met on 29 June it agreed outline planning application for the entire site should start again with a clean slate and nothing ruled in or out. The committee also guaranteed nothing would take place until a masterplan for the entire site had been agreed with full community engagement.

The admission of a “development of more than 300 new homes” raising between £20m – £24m is contained within a paper for discussion by the Council’s Finance and Resources Committee on 11 October.

“The consultation is still on-going and no masterplan agreed,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Heather Peacock. “Thousands of people have signed a petition against the housing plan and the Council was left in no doubt about the strength of opposition at last week’s public meeting.

“Yet now we discover Edinburgh Council has admitted it still intends to proceed with its plan regardless of how the consultation goes.

“This report is a flagrant breach of what was promised in June when Councillors made clear the project had to be taken forward with an entirely new masterplan created from a clean sheet with no assumptions about possible land use.

“The report proves the Council’s consultation on Meadowbank is nothing but a sham.

“It also shows the Council accepted and considered bids for construction work on the site in August, just one month after saying everything was back to the drawing board with nothing ruled in or out.

“We call on Edinburgh Council to reject this report and stop all work on the Meadowbank site pending the promised consultation and masterplan for the entire site.”

Council faces £24 million shortfall if it relies upon ‘inaccurate’ report

Edinburgh Council is facing a funding shortfall of £24 million on the proposed new Meadowbank sports centre, according to campaigners.

The Council’s finance committee is being asked to approve a £39 million contract for construction of a new Meadowbank Sports Centre. Alistair Gaw, Executive Director of Communities and Families within the Council, has submitted a paper for discussion by the Council’s Finance and Resources Committee on 11 October which claims this will mainly be funded by up to £24 million in capital receipts from the building “of more than 300 new homes” on half the site.

“This is completely inaccurate because his report is based on a previous Council plan which was thrown out by the planning committee when it met in June,” said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock.

“The planning committee agreed an outline planning application for the entire site should start again with a clean slate and nothing ruled in or out. All detail was withdrawn from the application, including the plan to build over 300 homes, leaving only a map marking the site boundary.

“The planning committee also agreed no work should take place pending a full consultation and the approval of a masterplan for the entire Meadowbank site. That consultation is still in progress and no masterplan has been prepared. Until that happens no one will be able to state the number of homes (if any) that will be built on the site or the amount that could be raised from them.

“Alistair Gaw’s report is therefore incorrect to state as fact that it will be “more than 300 new homes” or that up to £24 million will be generated in capital receipts. As these figures cannot be substantiated it means if the £39 million contract is approved it could result in a substantial funding shortfall of up to £24 million.

“We call upon the Council’s finance committee to challenge this report and realise they are being misled by officials into agreeing something that will result in a funding deficit of up to £24 million.”

Council leader confused by Radio 4 comedian

The leader of Edinburgh Council has been left confused by a comedian in a Twitter exchange about Wednesday’s public meeting over the future of Meadowbank Stadium.

Adam McVey, leader of the SNP administration in Edinburgh Council, had agreed to attend the meeting at Meadowbank Church but last week he unexpectedly pulled out because he “is no longer available”.

His tweet: “I was hoping to make the Save Meadowvank (sic) public meeting next week but unfortunately I’m not able to attend” was picked up by Radio 4 comedian Jo Caulfield who responded: “You didn’t have to tell us. It was obvious.”

Adam McVey replied “Literally, no idea what you’re talking about… was that tweet meant for me?”

“So Adam McVey has finally met his match in a comedian,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Heather Peacock. “Everyone can see he is running scared of hearing first-hand what the public want to tell him about Meadowbank and when questioned about it by a comedian he just says he has no idea.

“No idea McVey just about sums up how Edinburgh Council’s leader is treating the citizens of Scotland’s capital city on this important issue.

“We call on Councillor McVey to show some leadership and reconsider his decision rather than continue to run away from the issue.”

Edinburgh Council will be represented on Wednesday by Tricia Hill, the senior project manager responsible for the Meadowbank brief.

Public meeting calls for entire Meadowbank site to be kept for sports use

An overwhelming majority of those who attended the public meeting about what should happen with Meadowbank Stadium think the entire site should be retained for sports use.

Approximately 130 attended Meadowbank Church for last week’s meeting, one of a series of events arranged to let Edinburgh Council hear what the community wants to happen with the site, which was closed last year prior to the Council lodging a controversial plan to demolish it and build hundreds of homes on much of the land.

Only two politicians attended, John McLellan from the Conservatives and Labour’s Lezley Cameron. Council leader Adam McVey had said he would attend but withdrew just days before the event.

There were passionate calls from the floor for work to be halted on site to allow the consultation to take place and a masterplan prepared. A vote at the end showed a sea of hands in favour of retaining the entire site for sports use. Only four people expressed a preference for both sport and other use on the site.

“Edinburgh Council is in no doubt about the public’s view of this important matter,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Heather Peacock. “Senior councillors promised a full consultation on a blank canvas with nothing ruled in or out. The majority of the public clearly wants the site to remain for sport and leisure and many want the existing arena and grandstand to remain, pending the outcome of this consultation.

“We call again on Edinburgh Council to listen to what is being said and put a halt to what it is doing on the site until the consultation is complete and a masterplan prepared for the entire site. The campaign looks forward to working with and helping formulate the masterplan in accordance with the planning application.

“We continue to encourage people to make their views known through the Edinburgh Council consultation portal.”

The online consultation runs until 31 October 2018.

Council leader accused of “running scared” over Meadowbank

The leader of Edinburgh Council has been accused by campaigners of “running scared” for withdrawing from a public meeting that has been arranged to hear what the public wants to happen with Meadowbank Stadium.

Adam McVey, leader of the SNP administration in Edinburgh Council, had agreed to attend the meeting at Meadowbank Church on Wednesday 26 September but last week he unexpectedly pulled out because he “is no longer available”.

“That is not how we would expect the leader of Scotland’s capital city to act,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Heather Peacock. “The public meeting has been arranged for months. Councillor McVey is local to the area and had agreed to attend.

“Given he also refused to attend to the previous public meeting about Meadowbank in April, it looks to us as though he is running scared of hearing first-hand what the public want to tell him.

“We call on Councillor McVey to show some leadership and reconsider his decision rather than continue to run away from the issue.”

Edinburgh Council will instead be represented on Wednesday by Tricia Hill, the senior project manager responsible for the Meadowbank brief.

The public meeting is at Meadowbank Church, London Road, Edinburgh on Wednesday 26 September 2018 with a 19:00 start. It is part of a series of events for members of the public to let Edinburgh Council know what they would like to happen with Meadowbank Stadium. The facility was closed last year prior to Edinburgh Council lodging a controversial plan to demolish it and build hundreds of homes on much of the site.