Concerns about planning applications

1. Never again will the site be able to hold large scale events

Radiohead at Meadowbank

Meadowbank is known for holding large scale events such as music concerts (e.g. Elton John, Prince, Simple Minds, Radiohead and Kaiser Chiefs to name just five) and the annual Council-run firework display. None of these large scale events can be accommodated in the proposed development. Edinburgh is known for lacking suitable venues for such events so the Council should be looking to ensure its one venue that can host them continues to be able to do so.

2. Proposed spectator facility is far too small

The grandstand capacity will drop from 7,500 to 500, a DECREASE of 94%. Total ground capacity will drop from approx. 16,000 to 500, a DECREASE of almost 97%. A total ground capacity of 500 is far too small for even local football and athletic events.

3. Reduction by over 40% in the number of facilities within the sports centre

The current site has 32 facilities for the public. Under the proposal these will drop to 18. The current site is extremely popular. Sports groups struggle to obtain extended lets and occasional users have difficulty getting a booking. If that is the case with 32 facilities available, how will the proposed replacement cope when it has just 18 facilities?

4. Sports centre redevelopment does not meet the requirements of all existing users

Although specific space has been set aside for boxing, gymnastics, martial arts and a gym this means all other indoor users will have to share the space that remains, which is far less than is available at the present sports centre. The proposed development does not meet the requirements of several sports including athletics and football.

5. Insufficient provision for parking which will lead to the eventual introduction of controlled parking zones on surrounding streets

Despite this LOSS of over 40% of the existing facilities, the supporting planning statement anticipates usage will somehow INCREASE by 20% yet the application proposes a 50% DROP in the number of parking spaces to just 101. There is no provision for minibuses or coaches. Having Edinburgh Leisure offices within the sports development will just add to the demand for parking. By the time its staff and sports centre staff claim parking spaces there will be very few left for centre users with an obvious knock-on effect for surrounding streets, where controlled parking zones may need to be introduced due to overspill.

6. Further reduction of sport provision in the surrounding area

The floodlit football area in Portobello is now due to be sold to part-fund the redevelopment of Meadowbank, meaning a further net loss of sporting facilities in the immediate area.

7. Floodlighting is not included on the secondary outdoor sports pitch

The external sports lighting document shows floodlights will only be installed for the main outdoor pitch. The secondary pitch will not be lit which will mean a significant loss in facilities because the current site has floodlighting on both outdoor sports pitches.

8. There is no provision for a social club facility

While the application does include a café (118 m2), it is only the same size as the staff rest room (112 m2). There is no social club or club room facility despite two long-standing tenants on the existing site offering to make a sizeable financial contribution for such a facility.

9. Insufficient storage provision for organisations who will use it on a regular basis

Sports clubs who use the facility on an extended basis need somewhere to store their equipment yet there is insufficient provision within the applications.

10. Memorial stone and plaque for St Margaret’s Well is not part of the plan

A memorial stone and plaque for St Margaret’s Well is within the current sports centre site. These should be retained yet the application does not appear to state what will happen to them.

11. Change of land use to housing/commercial is contrary to Edinburgh’s Local Development Plan

The Local Plan was adopted as recently as November 2016. Had the Council or its officials wished to exclude the Meadowbank site from being listed as open space in that plan then they should have done so. Policies Env18 and Env19 protect against the loss of open space and outdoor sports facilities.

12. Building of housing is on land that could be required for a future railway station

Old railway lines and stations are being re-opened. Meadowbank is a perfect location for a station because of the railway junction at the East of the site. If, once all sporting facilities are replaced at Meadowbank, any truly ‘spare’ land is identified then it would better serve the community as a railway station and even a possible park-and-ride. If homes and offices are built on the site that chance will go without it being properly explored.

13. No analysis of impact of hundreds of homes on both the Stadium site and across the railway line when two high-rise office blocks are demolished

Housing development on both sites cannot be considered in isolation. If there is a need for additional housing and office space within the area then the Meadowbank House and St Margaret’s House site would be a better place for it rather than Edinburgh’s most popular sports facility.

14. No assessment of impact on local schools and health facilities

15. Insufficient detail about costs

No costs are included in either application. Given Edinburgh Council is a major public authority that is using finance as justification for attempting to change the use of open public space, it is reasonable to expect it provide financial evidence to justify its actions.

16. The loss of an iconic grandstand and floodlights

The Meadowbank grandstand and floodlights are renowned and should be retained because their design is of architectural significance. An equivalent grandstand in Galashiels already has listed building status as does Meadowbank’s sister Commonwealth Games venue, the Royal Commonwealth pool. Edinburgh Council should be considering a similar approach instead of demolishing a structurally sound building.

17. Public funds should not be spent on office accommodation for a private company – Edinburgh Leisure – while sports facilities are being reduced

18. Community woodland should be retained

The master plan states “Existing trees retained” at the junction of London Road/Wishaw Terrace but many other trees seem likely to be destroyed. The community woodland is a popular feature and the applicant should consider retaining it.

19. Flawed process of consulting with the general public

This covers the pre-application public display at Meadowbank Stadium which ran for only part of two days, the non-recording of feedback provided, the way the application has been delivered to the public without a further public display and the failure to include the word

‘Meadowbank’ in one of the two planning applications which means it isn’t found by a simple search on the Council’s planning portal when using what is an obvious keyword.

20. Multiple conflicts of interest means applications should be referred to Scottish Government

The Council is both applicant and decision maker for the planning application. It has already decided to accept the plan and by doing so has placed its planning officials in a position where they have a conflict of interest.

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