AS MANY as 200 jobs could be created under ambitious proposals being drawn up for a retail park on the outskirts of Haddington.

Discussions between Ediston Real Estate and East Lothian Council have already taken place with a view to creating four warehouse-style units on land at Harperdean, between the A1 and the A199 to the east of Aberlady Road.

A retail park has long been mooted for the site, which is also known as Peppercraig East, and East Lothian Council confirmed talks were taking place.

A spokesman for Edinburgh-based Ediston Real Estate confirmed four “national operators” were interested in the units, although they have not been named.

It is thought a planning application for the site could be submitted as early as next month.

The spokesman added the development could result in somewhere between 150 and 200 jobs, not including those created during the construction phase.

The developer is hopeful of a decision being made before the end of the year, with work getting under way early in 2019.

A council spokeswoman said: “Council officers and councillors have been made aware of a possible proposal for retail development on land at Peppercraig opposite the Jet garage in Haddington but no planning application has yet been received.”

Ward councillor John McMillan, council spokesman for tourism and economic development, said: “There has been a briefing but we are waiting for an application.

Major UK outlets “There has been talk of major UK outlets and so on – people are interested in it.”

Mr McMillan said various things would have to be weighed up, such as the number of jobs potentially being created, as well as the impact on the town centre.

He said: “I would not do anything that would harm the town centre but there is evidence that this kind of development makes the town more interesting and more visitor-friendly.”

Ward colleague Councillor Tom Trotter had heard the rumours in the town but was yet to see anything “in black and white”.

He said: “The way Haddington is, the town centre would always be part of any consideration.”

Fellow ward councillor Brian Small agreed, while adding: “I’m sure there would need to be the appropriate analysis done.”

Councillor Shamin Akhtar said: “Councillors have had a briefing from Ediston Real Estate.

“But as yet no planning application has been submitted which would provide further details on the development.”

On the Harperdean site, the council’s local development plan states: “Access should be taken from the A199 and some improvements will be required, including provision of a footway, crossing facilities, street lighting and a reduced speed limit on the A199.

“This site would be suitable for business, hotel and leisure uses.

“The site will require a programme of archaeological works prior to development and shelterbelt planting to mitigate the visual impact of development.”

Paul Darling, from the town’s community council, confirmed he too had heard the rumours.

He felt a number of businesses in the town centre would likely have concerns about any retail park on the outskirts of Haddington and how it would impact their business, adding: “People have to come through the town to go to Tesco or Aldi. If they are on the outskirts of the town, people will not see anything.”

Discussions have also already taken place with Haddington and District Business Association but Judith Warren, chairwoman, was unable to comment on any proposals at this stage.

When an application is submitted to the council, members will be asked for their views.

The area is one of two dedicated employment zones within the local development plan, with the other on the town’s western edge earmarked by Sainsbury’s.

READ MORE: Long-awaited Haddington Sainsbury's at least three years away

The supermarket giants were given planning permission for a store there about five years ago but progress on the site has been very slow, with no sign of building getting under way.

The Harperdean site was earmarked for development in 2009 when a planning application for retail, a hotel and filling station development on the site was submitted to the council.

However, Miller Developments Ltd withdrew the plans in 2011.