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Saughton Arena – a possible future?

ONCE the new Meadowbank sports arena is fully up and running, it is going to become increasingly difficult to argue for the retention of the rather battered 400m athletics track that surrounds the football pitch at Saughton Arena.

It’s a pretty substantial plot of land: the pitch and the accompanying track.

Add the land occupied by a nearby changing room complex – which, to be generous, requires some TLC – and there’s a huge canvas potentially available, not just for the playing of football, but also the provision of housing and wildlife amenity.

Nearby, the area has already undergone something of a dramatic transformation. There’s newly-revived ornamental gardens and accompanying neatly-constructed car parking, which borders, to the south, several acres of occasionally-mown and relatively flat grass.

To the north of this large green expanse – which often doubles up as ad hoc football pitches for youth and children’s teams – there are two artificial pitches, both surrounded by fencing: one full-size, the other half.

Also to the south are various incursions, such as a skateboard park, a basketball court and a children’s play area. So, precedents have been set.

A second artificial full-size pitch – floodlit, of course – running parallel to the existing one would almost certainly comfortably accommodate all the required fixtures demands, were the old grass pitch to be dispensed with.

And sandwiched in between the two pitches (were a second to be constructed) could be spectator seating, within a suite of modern changing, meeting and dining, etc facilities. Not dissimilar to the multi-function Petershill Park, in Glasgow.

Funding the whole initiative would look towards the land released by no longer requiring the old football park and running track – plus the removal of the current changing room complex – and using it for housing and any car parking and wildlife amenity, such as a pond.

The beauty of this imagining is that, as one facility is being built, it won’t impede on the use of the others. Any subsequent transition would be therefore relatively seamless.

The figures should add up, they might. And the result could be a restoration every bit as impressive as the neighbouring ornamental gardens.

Mike Wilson is a member of the BuiltEdinburgh team

Image: Through fencing, towards the main changing room block

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