Meadowbank will have a “fit for purpose” sports centre after councillors approved proposals for an overhaul of the iconic stadium.
Members of the city council’s development management sub-committee also agreed to grant planning permission in principle for the site around the former stadium to be used for mixed use including housing. A masterplan for the site will be produced in partnership with residents and groups after the authority was forced into an apology over a flawed consultation process.
The council-funded sports centre project will cost around £47 million and construction could start before the end of the year.
The committee heard from James Lumsden, vice-chairman of Edinburgh City Football Club, who had been based at Meadowbank for 22 years until the stadium shut its doors in December.
The new plans for Meadowbank would see capacity reduced from 8,000 to just 500 as the grand stand is to be demolished - potentially a stumbling block for the club’s ambition to rise through the football league system. But the council said they had assurances from the Scottish Professional Football League that the plans would meet bronze standards - allowing games to be held at Meadowbank.
Officers agreed to look at the capacity needs of Edinburgh City in the future.
The overhaul to the stadium, which was built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games, will include a 3G football pitch in the centre of the running track, an indoor athletics track and an outdoor throws area.
The proposals also feature badminton courts, a gymnastics hall, a gym, studios, a cafe and offices.
Cllr Chas Booth and Cllr Neil Ross opposed the proposals due to three elm trees having to be removed, as well as claims from residents that there would be a 40 per cent reduction in sports facilities. Council officers said there was “significant new tree planting” as part of the plans.
Councillors heard from Mark Munro from Scottish Athletics, who welcomed the proposals - stating the plans improved athletics facilities.
He said: “Meadowbank is an iconic venue for athletics - however, it has fallen behind the times.
“It’s crucial that this investment and these proposals go ahead.”
Earlier, Elaine Scott, the council’s housing services manager apologised for flaws in the initial consultation with residents and groups in relation to the overall site use at Meadowbank.
Ms Scott said that the consultation process has “fallen short with what is needed” and that the failings were “unintentional and regrettable”.
She added: “We have a way to go in regaining the trust of the local community.”
The masterplan process will start with “a blank slate” in terms of housing and commercial use.
Council Leader Cllr Adam McVey said: “This is great news for the future of sport in the city. The redevelopment is an investment in the future health and well-being of our citizens and will see Meadowbank retain its position as the flagship site for sport in Edinburgh.
“I am pleased to see planning permission granted for the new facility and the decision to approve in principle agreement for development of the wider site will, of course, support our ambitions for the new sports centre.
“It will also support our strategy for building much needed new affordable homes but before we progress these plans, much more engagement needs to be done. We’ll now kick off a meaningful, comprehensive consultation after the summer to make sure we get this right.”
Campaigners from the Save our Stadium group protested outside City Chambers before the meeting and were disappointed the site will be carved up for housing and other uses.
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