WORK on more than 800 homes on the outskirts of Haddington is finally under way.

Planning permission was granted by East Lothian Council’s planning committee in the summer of 2015 for 642 houses, 167 flats and a new primary school at Letham Mains on the town’s western edge.

Now, more than two years later, the developers – CALA Homes, Mactaggart and Mickel, and Taylor Wimpey East Scotland – have confirmed that “pre-construction” work has started.

The work – led by the housebuilding trio – includes earthworks to pave the way for the provision of roads, street lighting, drainage and utilities ahead of the housing being built.

Formal work on the site is due to get under way next month.

Ward councillors Tom Trotter and John McMillan were among those pleased to progress being made.

Mr Trotter said: “This development has been talked about for a very long time and I think most people have accepted that it was going to start at some point – and that time is now with us.

“I think we have to look positively at it: the delivery of a new school and added sports facilities and, of course, new housing for the area, combined with job opportunities, come into the category of obvious benefits to Haddington.

“There is a lot going on in and around the town that has raised its profile and hopefully the people who move into these new homes will want to head into the centre to shop and become involved with all the various groups already doing a fantastic job in promoting our county town.”

Meanwhile, Mr McMillan, who is also the council’s spokesman for tourism and economic development, felt there was plenty going on in the town to ensure new residents made their way into the town centre.

He said: “You can look on the negative side – there is always room for improvement.

“However, there is lots to see in Haddington. There is the John Gray Centre, St Mary’s Parish Church, the shops, the river and Neilson Park.

“The Beautiful Scotland judges were commenting on all of that and I was coming through the church [at lunchtime recently] and folk were picnicking in The Pleasance Garden. When you think about events there is the farmers’ market, the Haddington Festival and the Lammermuir Festival coming up.”

During the first phase of development, each housebuilder will establish their own site teams to begin construction of the new homes on the land, off West Road.

The work continues the significant expansion of the town’s western edge, with housebuilding also taking place at nearby Gateside and at Dovecot, off Pencaitland Road.

In addition to the 809 Letham Mains new homes, of which 139 are described as ‘affordable’, various community facilities and changes to the area will be carried out.

A new primary school, which will be home to nearly 500 pupils, will be at the heart of the development, with a new road linking West Road and Pencaitland Road.

The school, which is yet to be named, will also have early learning and childcare provision of 70 places, with 14 classrooms.

A new sports pitch and changing facilities, as well as a new park running through the development alongside the Letham Burn, will also be created.