Plea to save Meadowbank grandstand from bulldozer

Athlete Allan Wells in the 100m race at the Scottish Athletic Championships at Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh, June 1980
Athlete Allan Wells in the 100m race at the Scottish Athletic Championships at Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh, June 1980
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THE grandstand at Meadowbank should be saved from the bulldozer and given a Grade A listing, according to an architectural expert.

Dimitris Theodossopoulos – a lecturer in architectural technology at Edinburgh College of Art – said the grandstand was “reminiscent of early hi-tech sports architecture” like the Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome, built for the 1960 Olympics. The grandstand is due to be demolished to make way for a new sports centre.

Mr Theodossopoulos said: “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.”

Dr Thedossopoulos said Meadowbank, built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games, reflected the fact Edinburgh was an active city, not just a place of Georgian and Victorian architecture. “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,” he said.

The Save Meadowbank campaign welcomed his views. Spokeswoman Linda Furley said: “Councillors must now look again at this controversial development and reflect on the sheer strength of opposition there is to it.”

Heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association has not taken a position on Meadowbank, but director Terry Levinthal pointed out the Royal Commonwealth Pool, also built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games, was already Grade A listed.

However, he said: “Heritage Environment Scotland (HES) operates a policy not to consider listing while there is a live planning application.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Meadowbank is not a listed structure and we have exciting plans to replace it with a new venue fit for the future – one which we believe will become one of the top community sports centres in Scotland. The old facilities are no longer fit for purpose.”

The council’s planning committee is due to hold a hearing on June 29 into the application for the proposed new sports centre and an in-principle application for wider development.

A spokeswoman for HES said: “Buildings are assessed on a case-by case basis. However, we do not normally assess new sites for listing when there are development proposals.”