John McLellan: Meadowbank plan may have funding flaw

Pitz football pitches at Portobello
Pitz football pitches at Portobello
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The Meadowbank Stadium redevelopment has yet to begin but already the estimated cost has risen by £3.4 million in under a year, according to the latest council report.

The bill has increased from £43.5m to £46.9m after more detailed design work was carried out, resulting in alterations to the athletics track but also an extensive revision of the foundation work. The council has also had to find an additional £2m after a promised contribution from sportscotland was cut from £7m to a maximum of £5m.

But miraculously the council says it has the money, and from a reported shortfall of £7.9m last February the council has actually managed to find £13.3m. This is made up of £7.9m from the capital investment programme and a £5.9m transfer from the housing revenue account, which actually leaves it with a £500,000 float which might be needed if the sportscotland grant is cut further when the award is made next month.

The total cost also includes utilities work for the whole site, taking in those areas now earmarked for housing, student flats and offices. The hope is that by investing in the basic infrastructure the council will get a better price from the sale of part of the site for commercial redevelopment.

But the estimated receipts also include the proceeds of the sale of the Westbank Street site in Portobello which was formerly used for five-a-side football. The council is already gearing up for a wrangle over its future after the Scottish Government gave a grant to the Action Porty campaign to produce an alternative plan for community use and the Meadowbank report recognises the possibility of the council getting nothing to put towards the new stadium.

The master plan for the area is still being finalised but is expected to feature pedestrian access through to Marrionville and Restalrig, which will be no comfort to Portobello residents if the council gets its way.