PLANS to restore Musselburgh’s historic Old Town Hall to its former glory should be given “priority” to become a reality following a successful public consultation exercise, one of those leading the project has said.

Barry Turner, a trustee of Musselburgh Museum and Heritage Group which is leading the refurbishment plan, said that there had been “a lot of positive feedback” from the community.

He said: “We have started the ball rolling. Let’s hope that priority is now given by East Lothian Council to turning the plans into reality.”

The museum and heritage group, along with Musselburgh Area Partnership, which allocates funding for the town from East Lothian Council, has been working with specialist architect Richard Shorter on the £2.5 to £3 million project.

Two options are being considered: one which has an entrance from the High Street frontage through a pend under the Tolbooth; and another which has the entrance from the open area in front of the building, beside the open stairway.

The consultation, which was supported by Musselburgh Area Partnership and ended on Monday, included an open day which attracted about 175 people.

Mr Turner, a town planner and former councillor, said: “The museum and heritage group, which initiated the project, is very satisfied with the interest shown and the responses received.

“People are now keen to see something happen in what is the town’s most important building.

“As part of the Musselburgh Common Good Fund, the Old Town Hall is a council building and now it is the council who will have to take things forward.

“The groundwork has been undertaken.

“Analysing the questionnaires and other responses is the first step and it should be clear which of the two options people favour.

“At this stage we don’t necessarily have to identify precise uses for each available space but rather a package of uses which will probably be a mix of community and commercial because it is important that there is income for the management and upkeep of the building.

“Uses will need to be compatible and also realistic in terms of finding tenants.

“Once identified we can proceed to a business plan which will show potential fund providers that the project is viable.

“The building quite clearly cannot be left as it is indefinitely and providing access for all through the provision of a new entrance and a lift was seen to be the key to bringing it back into full use.”

A council spokesman said: “Following the public consultation that closed last week, the next step will be to analyse all of the responses received and produce a report.

“This report will be discussed with Musselburgh Museum and Heritage Group, the architect Richard Shorter, council officials and elected members before a preferred option is identified.”

The Old Town Hall and Tolbooth, which is situated on High Street, has played a major role in the life of the town over many years, including as a court, jail and police station.

The building dates from the late 1400s but has been little used since civic functions moved to the Brunton Hall.

Suggestions from the public for its future use included everything from equipping the main hall as a music venue for small concerts and events to including a restaurant, arts and cultural space, open-air eatery, expanded museum, and opening up the jails and clock tower as a tourist attraction. Some were keen to see a children’s play area featured, as well as meeting rooms, a youth cafe, cinema club, exhibitions, craft training venue and garden area.