More than 300 local residents vented their feelings about the “downsizing” of Meadowbank Stadium at a public meeting last night.
The community responded angrily to the council’s controversial proposals, with many expressing particular concern about not being listened to.
SNP councillor Ian Campbell said he “disputed that the council hadn’t asked for public opinion” because there had been a consultation.
However, one Newington resident said that the whole city “should have been consulted because the stadium is an Edinburgh-wide facility”.
She added: “I knew absolutely nothing about this when the consultation went out a year and a half ago.”
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for the Lothian region, expressed her concern that sport is not being taken seriously by the council.
She said: “I’m having deja vu because I was here a decade ago arguing against Meadowbank being demolished.
“This centre needs to work for everyone. We’re not a healthy nation – we shouldn’t be making it harder for people to get to facilities they want and need. It’s getting to the point where if you’re serious about sport you have to go to Glasgow.”
Other residents expressed worries about part of the facility being used for commercial purposes. One said: “These developers are likely to just build more high rise that will tower over my bungalow. It’s easy for councillors to talk about compromise, but they don’t have to live with the compromise”.
But Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, vice convenor of culture and communities, said: “The city’s commitment towards redeveloping this venue into a state-of-the-art facility fit for the future – rather than allowing it to fall into disrepair – is a major win for the city.
“The old Meadowbank stadium was designed to serve a specific purpose, to host competitions in the 1970 Commonwealth Games.
“However, 50 years on, that purpose has changed and the new building will be built to allow anybody, of any age and ability, to access fantastic studios, games halls and pitches and to get fit and active and enjoy sport.”
The campaign emerged in 2007 amid council plans to raze the stadium and sell the site to private developers.
This decision was later reversed, but the campaign reformed in February to oppose current proposals.
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.
“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.”