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.”

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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.”

 

Meadowbank proposals should be rejected because they contravene Edinburgh’s Local Development Plan

Edinburgh Council’s controversial proposals to downsize Meadowbank Stadium and build hundreds of homes on half the site should be rejected because they contravene its own local development plan (LDP) say campaigners.

The five year plan came into effect in November 2016. It classes the Meadowbank site as open space or recreational use.

“Meadowbank is covered by policy ENV 18 governing the protection of open space,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Russell McLarty. “The policy requires criteria that must be satisfied before such space can be developed. Some of them have not been mentioned in the report and every one of them is violated in this case.

“There will be a major impact on the local environment by the loss of open space, the loss of sporting facilities and the building of hundreds of homes on the site.

“The plan lists 53 sites for housing development and states these sites ‘provide a generous supply of land’ so should be more than sufficient to meet Edinburgh’s housing needs. Meadowbank is not one of those sites.

“Thousands of people have objected to the plans, which have a support rate on the Council’s own planning portal of less than 14%.

“Councillors must now look again at this controversial development and reflect on the sheer strength of opposition there is to it.”

 Edinburgh Council’s planning committee is due to decide on two planning applications for the Meadowbank site when it meets on 29 June.

Thousands sign Save Meadowbank petition

Over 3,000 people have now signed a petition calling on Edinburgh Council to think again on its controversial proposals to downsize Meadowbank Stadium and build hundreds of homes on half the site.

The petition states “We, the undersigned, object to both proposals, and call for an increase in the proposed level of sports provision to be available in the new Sports Centre, a reduction in the number, density, and height of any housing to be located on the current site, and greater preservation of open space and trees.”

The petition will be handed to Edinburgh Council on Friday when its planning sub-committee meets to consider the plans.

“This shows the overwhelming sense people have that more consultation is required before anything more is done on the Meadowbank site,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Russell McLarty.

“The Council planning portal shows a support rate for the plan of lower than 14%.

 “Councillors must now look again at this controversial development and reflect on the sheer strength of opposition there is to it.”

Meadowbank grandstand is worth saving for its architecture

Meadowbank’s grandstand should be saved on architectural grounds. That’s the view of Dr. Dimitris Theodossopoulos, a lecturer in Architectural Technology at the Edinburgh College of Art.

Edinburgh Council plans to demolish everything on the Meadowbank site and replace it with a cut-down sports centre and hundreds of homes. But Dr Theodossopoulos reasons the 7,500-capacity grandstand is a hugely significant building and should be kept.

“The architectural beauty of Meadowbank is mainly due to its grandstand,” said Dr. Theodossopoulos. “Get rid of that and the site it loses its character.

“A similar cantilever grandstand in Galashiels has been granted Grade A listed building status. So too should the Meadowbank grandstand.

“Meadowbank is one of the last major examples of design carried out by the City Council architects. It can be included in the contemporary examples of creative attitude by local authorities all over Britain, like London’s Royal Festival Hall.

“The Stadium uses an interesting dynamic system of concrete beams and columns to form the main skeleton, which is clearly and elegantly expressed. I find the way the steel members tie the grandstand along the London Road elevation an interesting feature, reminiscent of early hi-tech sports architecture like P. L. Nervi’s Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome for the 1960 Olympics. The result is a rhythmical composition which with an improved landscape and lighting scheme can become more prominent.

“I am aware of the problems the council has faced in maintaining the Stadium but I believe the architectural and cultural prominence of the site can be matched to its significance as a vital sports facility for the community and therefore a carefully drafted development masterplan can provide the required value for all of East Edinburgh.

“I have always been in favour of the architectural prominence of the current front of the stadium along London Road. Even though it was not one for the most advanced designs of its period, its later cultural significance and presence meant there is a welcome modernist break in the area. This can be viewed as reminiscent of a wider range of architectural periods that enhances the fact that Edinburgh has been an active city across all of its recent history, not just the established late Georgian/ Victorian aspect. Something of similar prominence needs to be re-established with the architecture of the centre and its clear frontage along London Road.

“I therefore register my strong objection to the scheme and the demolition of the Stadium.”

Campaigners welcomed his views. Save Meadowbank spokesperson Linda Furley commented: “With support for the Council’s plans at less than 14%, why can’t the Council simply admit it made a mistake and propose a reversal of the decision to demolish Meadowbank?

“Councillors must now look again at this controversial development and reflect on the sheer strength of opposition there is to it.”

Edinburgh Council’s planning committee is due to decide on the two planning applications for the Meadowbank site when it meets on 29 June.

Council to allow only one person to object to land use change at Meadowbank

Edinburgh Council’s senior planning officer has decided only ONE person will be allowed to raise objections at a crucial meeting to decide whether the Meadowbank Stadium site can be changed from recreational to residential/commercial use.

Lesley Carus explained her decision in an e-mail sent to campaigners last week when she wrote: “Due to the number of people speaking at the sports centre application, I have tried to keep the hearing for the other application more concise, and have therefore only invited two speakers (one objector and one supporter).” Each speaker with have just five minutes to make their points.

“The Council’s behaviour is getting worse,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Linda Furley.

“There are two planning applications. One is to change the land use away from recreation and the other is to build a cut-down sports centre. Both plans are linked. The planning application to change the land use is central to the entire project because the Council claims it has to build hundreds of homes on the site to fund a new-build sports centre.

“It is simply incredible that a Council employee has decided when Councillors get to discuss an issue as important as the change of land use for one of the Council’s largest leisure facilities, only one person is being allowed to raise objections and they are getting just five minutes to do so.

“This sadly demonstrates a continuing lack of proper engagement with the public despite a significant campaign having sought greater involvement with those who fund Council services – the public.

“The opposition to this plan is immense. It is running at over 80% on the Council’s own planning portal and hundreds have attended public meetings including one where just ONE person showed support for the plans. Thousands more have signed petitions.

“We have met with Council officials and been assured they were listening to concerns. Yet when it comes to the crunch, they won’t let the campaign group address the people who are making the decision.

“We urge Councillors and officials to look again at this controversial development and reflect on the sheer strength of opposition there is to it rather than continue the apparent actions of the Council planning department which appears to want to be preventing Committee members hearing directly about the strength of feeling.”

Edinburgh Council’s planning committee is due to decide on the two planning applications for the Meadowbank site when it meets at 10:00 on 29 June.

Council bans Save Meadowbank Campaign from crucial planning meeting

Edinburgh Council has banned the Save Meadowbank Campaign from addressing the meeting later this month at which the planning committee will decide whether to approve controversial plans to demolish Meadowbank Stadium and replace it with a cut down sports centre and hundreds of homes.

Last month Edinburgh Council agreed to delay its decision by six weeks in order to allow further consultation. Invites have now been sent to selected people to attend the hearing on 29 June but the Council’s planning department has deliberately excluded the Save Meadowbank Campaign from taking part.

“This is an affront to both our campaign and the wider public,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Linda Furley.

“Hundreds have attended public meetings including one where just ONE person showed support for the plans.

“Councillors who attended those meetings were critical of the consultation process in which the Council decided to inform only residents whose properties were within 90 metres of the Stadium boundary. And the only public meeting arranged by the Council took place four days AFTER the deadline had passed for the submission of comments.

“This meant only 450 properties were informed. Most residents were left in the dark

“The Council’s own website shows the plan to change land use is supported by less than one in seven, while the plan to downsize Meadowbank has a support rate of around one in six.

“We have met with Council officials and been assured they were listening to concerns. Yet when it comes to the crunch, they won’t let the campaign group address the people who are making the decision.

“Councillors must look again at this controversial development and reflect on the sheer strength of opposition there is to it. Instead, the Council planning department appears to want to do all it can to prevent Councillors hearing directly about the strength of feeling.”

Edinburgh Council’s planning committee is due to decide on the two planning applications for the Meadowbank site when it meets on 29 June.