Campaigners slate downsized Meadowbank Stadium

A public meeting has been arranged to let Edinburgh Councillors hear what residents and centre users think about their controversial plan to downsize Meadowbank Stadium. Picture: Ian Georgeson
A public meeting has been arranged to let Edinburgh Councillors hear what residents and centre users think about their controversial plan to downsize Meadowbank Stadium. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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CAMPAIGNERS against the “downsizing” of Edinburgh’s Meadowbank stadium have called a public meeting next week to give residents and users their say on the plans.

Councillors are due to consider the £45m proposals for a new sports centre along with housing, student accommodation, a hotel and commercial use at a meeting on May 15.

But Linda Furley, of the Save Meadowbank campaign, said people were angry at the plans, not least the reduction in facilities.

She said: “Meadowbank is Edinburgh’s main sports facility with over 500,000 people using it each year.

“Under the council’s plan we will lose over 40 per cent of the existing facilities and the proposed replacement centre will be a pale shadow of its former self.”

She said the current eight outdoor facilities – two football pitches, an athletic track, a competition throws area, a practise throws area, a long jump, a velodrome and a basketball court – would be reduced to four: two football pitches, an athletic track and a throws area.

And the 21 indoor facilities – three main halls, seven secondary halls, six squash courts, an athletic track, a dojo hall, a gym, a multi-purpose room and a climbing area plus five lounges/meeting rooms – would be cut to 12: an 
athletic track, two general halls, a gymnastics hall, a dojo hall, three studios, a boxing hall, two squash courts and a fitness club plus one hospitality and two meeting rooms.

Ms Furley said: “The planning application submitted earlier this year attracted an objection rate of over 80 per cent.

“Many people don’t want student accommodation, a hotel and over 300 homes up to 12 storeys high at the expense of recreational and green space.”

Fellow campaigner Jackie Plews predicted the public would find it harder to use the new Meadowbank sports centre and some groups could be driven out of the area.

She said: “There is going to be much higher demand. The ordinary person is going to find it very difficult to book places on yoga classes or whatever. It will not serve the community the way it should.”

And she said locals were also unhappy about the proposals for housing and other uses on the rest of the land. “What residents are most worried about is the height of the buildings, the density of the development and the massive increase in traffic there will be.”

A council spokesperson said: “We’ve submitted plans to transform Meadowbank into a brand new sports facility fit for the 21st century. Throughout the process we’ve engaged very closely with clubs and national governing bodies and have worked to use the funds available to incorporate as many different types of sport as possible in the new centre. First and foremost the new Meadowbank is designed to be a venue which allows people of all abilities to enjoy the fantastic range of facilities that will be on offer.”

The public meeting will take place at Meadowbank Church, opposite Meadowbank retail park, 83 London Road, on Wednesday, April 18 at 7pm.