John McLellan: Meadowbank plans could be so much better

St Margaret's House is a focal point for the Meadowbank communities
St Margaret's House is a focal point for the Meadowbank communities
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Car parking, student flats and privacy are the emerging concerns from the first public consultation about the Meadowbank masterplan on Tuesday afternoon at the Edinburgh Palette arts complex.

Around 50 people went along and, from the conversations about the model of what the area might look like, it was clear the main issue is the impact on parking because of the limited number of spaces at the sports centre and the density of the housing and student flats on the rest of the site.

Willowbrae/Meadowbank is already saturated round the clock and the expectation of people I spoke to is that with the possibility of new pedestrian access via an extended Clockmill Lane to Marionville then the streets to the North will go the same way.

READ MORE: John McLellan: Get ready for a second Battle of Meadowbank

There are also worries about the height of flats overlooking the railway and onto the back of houses along Marionville Avenue.

Proposals are at the earliest stage so there is plenty of time for people to make their voices heard and there will be another opportunity at a public meeting at 7.30pm on Tuesday, at the Palette.

Look at the bigger picture

The arts complex Edinburgh Palette has about 18 months to go before it will have to vacate its St Margaret’s House home, with the sale of the building to the Drum Property Group.

While most of the companies and charities based there could exist elsewhere, the benefit of all being in the one place and able to share services and pool resources is undeniable.

But as the Meadowbank information event showed, the building is also a much-needed focal point for a conglomeration of different communities which do not necessarily look to their neighbours as part of a bigger district in the same way as Leith or Portobello.

READ MORE: Edinburgh City FC not convinced by new Meadowbank plans

There is also a question mark over the future of Piershill Library and concern about the condition of the Northfield community centre, and what is missing from the masterplan for the stadium site is a wider look at the district as a whole.

Divided by the railway, the whole Meadowbank redevelopment could end up with two sets of plans moving at a different pace but both incorporating housing and student flats, while a major facility like the Edinburgh Palette could easily be lost.

There might still be time to breathe life into attempts to produce a vision for the whole Portobello-London Road artery.