CONCERN has been raised that the loss of The Quay would be a “blow to Fisherrow” as plans to turn it into a 40-bedroom luxury care home were revealed.

Keep-fit enthusiasts at the Musselburgh complex have also launched a petition in a bid to save its fitness spa, which has become a social hub over the years.

A planning application has been submitted to East Lothian Council to convert the premises, located next to Fisherrow Harbour, into a 40-bedroom luxury care home.

Owned by entrepreneur Charan Gill, The Quay currently operates as a venue for weddings and events, with a restaurant and fitness spa, though business has suffered a sharp decline over recent years.

Mr Gill has confirmed that a deal has been struck with care home developer Simply UK, which plans to invest £5 million into the conversion project, subject to planning approval.  He said that trading at The Quay had been challenging over recent years, especially after the opening of numerous restaurants at nearby Fort Kinnaird.

Mr Gill said: “Over the past year we have had to reduce staffing levels and opening hours, and meeting rising overheads has been a struggle.

Our research has shown that there is an over-supply of restaurants and bars in the area. There is also a Pure Gym opening at The Fort and this would have led to The Quay eventually closing with the loss of many jobs.

“Our research has shown that there is an over-supply of restaurants and bars in the area. There is also a Pure Gym opening at The Fort and this would have led to The Quay eventually closing, with the loss of many jobs.

“There is a shortage of compliant care home beds in the area and this conversion will fulfil a much-needed service, while creating some 40 jobs.

“The Quay is situated on the harbour and I believe the calming views across the Firth of Forth make it an excellent location for a care home facility.”

Simply UK executive Christopher O’Brien added: “We are very excited about this project, which we are confident will provide a much-needed valuable asset.”

Veronica Noone, chairwoman of Fisherrow Waterfront Group, said: “It is true that Musselburgh needs elderly care home provision but this it not the right site. The Quay is in a very prominent position and has been a hub of activity for functions.

“To lose that when we are looking at increasing social and economic activity in the area to bring in more people and visitors would be a bit of a blow to Fisherrow.”

She stressed that, with all the new housing being built in the area, it was important that there were “more and better facilities” for people who used the harbour, while also highlighting a plan for a care village at Inveresk.

Musselburgh resident Ann Tait, who has enjoyed exercise classes at The Quay for more than two decades, launched a petition last Monday, along with several other fitness spa members.

She said they were keen to see the fitness spa, which has a gym, swimming pool and studios, and hosts a range of classes, retained.

Mrs Tait said: “So many friendships have been made there over the years, so it’s not just about the classes, it is a social thing as well.”

She said Musselburgh Sports Centre was not big enough to accommodate all the fitness classes.

The petition, which will also go on Facebook, will be submitted to Mr Gill.

Ward councillor John Williamson said: “The Quay is in a prominent position on the seafront and has been a major asset to the area in the past.

“A care home is needed for Musselburgh but I feel that what is proposed – a luxury care home – would not be something financially accessible to the majority of locals.

“The Quay was and still could be an excellent venue for functions, especially weddings, given the magnificent photo opportunities right on its doorstep, and there is always a demand for quality eating out places.”

Fellow ward councillor Katie Mackie said: “The seafront and harbour area has massive potential to be used as a leisure amenity for both local residents and visitors.

“Whilst we do need to look at the provision of care for the elderly in Musselburgh, I don’t believe a luxury care home to replace The Quay would enhance the area.”