LAND previously set aside for a pub/restaurant could instead be transformed into housing after it was claimed there was little appetite for such a venture.

Planning permission was given for 112 houses, industrial units and a pub/restaurant on land at the former Gateside Commerce Park in Haddington in January 2015.

Since then, attempts have been made to try to find a company interested in taking up the pub/restaurant, which it was thought would be similar in style to the Pine Marten, off Dunbar’s Spott Road.

However, the lack of interest has led to Persimmon (East Scotland) looking to build 16 houses on the site, which is to the west of the town.

Paul Darling, planning liaison officer with the town’s community council, felt there was demand for accommodation and associated facilities.

He said: “We have always said that they need a hotel or motel.

“Why not one of the big players, like Travelodge or Premier Inn? The site is just off the [A1] and close to the town.”

With 1,000-plus new homes being built in the nearby area, Mr Darling felt that a budget hotel and an associated pub/restaurant would be feasible.

Documents submitted to the local authority last month show the developers reached out to at least three companies in a bid to see a pub/restaurant created.

The proposed venture, which would have taken up an area measuring 690 square metres, would have been able to seat 200 customers and had been marketed since 2015 by Colliers International.

The document states there has been “little traction” and the “lack of prominence to the A1 or A199 has caused a lack of interest amongst potential operations”.

It adds: “Frontages along main roads are the most desirable for pub/restaurant operators and this site lacks a feature of this nature.

“The report continues by noting that there has been considerable interest from a number of residential housebuilders, and the agents note that a residential consent would no doubt attract a number of purchasers.”

Approaches were made to Whitbread, the UK’s largest operator of hotels, restaurants and coffee shops, including Premier Inn and Costa Coffee; Greene King, which owns The Railway Inn/The Bell in the town; and Marstons, which has the Pine Marten in Dunbar.

However, none of the companies gave any indication of interest in the site.

Whitbread said: “Further to our discussion, I can confirm that we don’t generally progress pub/restaurant opportunities without an onsite hotel.”

Meanwhile, Greene King said: “The site would not be of interest.

“At present, we are concentrating on rolling out our Farmhouse brand and this location would not be suitable as well as being too small.”

Finally, Marston’s added: “Marston’s are not interested in pursuing this site at Haddington as we presently feel that the overall population of the town (at a one-mile, three-mile and five-mile radius) is not large enough to justify investment for us here at the moment.

“We also have another site in Dunbar so feel that this is too close for us to then build a pub/restaurant in Haddington.”

The report highlights 13 pubs or restaurants currently operating in the town, although The Railway Inn/The Bell is the closest and it is currently shut and undergoing a refurbishment.

Mr Darling questioned if there were enough facilities being created to the west of the town, which has seen significant expansion in recent years.

More than 1,000 houses are due to be constructed, with a Sainsbury’s supermarket promised but yet to be built.

He said: “There is going to be something needed up there.”