AN AMBITIOUS project to turn a former cinema into a state-of-the-art community hub is set to go ahead after a fantastic fundraising effort.

The Fraser Centre Community Trust faced having to fill a £400,000 gap in the cost of its plans to rebuild the centre as time began to run out in February.

However, the trust has reached its £2.9 million final figure with a combination of design savings, additional fundraising and a passionate response to its appeal from the local community.

Now the demolition and building contracts have been signed and work is expected to begin within weeks.

The trust was formed by members of the community in 2011 with the vision to rebuild a semi-derelict former picture house into a community hub for learning, development, arts and entertainment in the heart of Tranent.

It has welcomed local firm RM Brown Demolitions to the project to manage the demolition.

Fleming Buildings Ltd has been appointed to construct the new Fraser Centre after a vigorous tender process.

Jonny Russell, chairman of the trust, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that our community dream is becoming a reality.

“The Fraser Centre Community Trust staff and volunteers are all very excited with the recent progress and look forward to completing the next stage of our project.

“The community as a whole has totally got behind what we’re doing and we want to reward them with an amazing, state-of-the-art venue.”

The news that the project, which is expected to be completed by June next year, was going ahead was welcomed by East Lothian MSP Iain Gray.

He said: “I remember visiting The Fraser Centre nearly five years ago when the idea of transforming it into a community hub was at the very early stages.

“I am delighted that the centre has now reached the point where work to realise its vision is finally getting underway. It has been a remarkable effort by everyone involved in driving the project forward, with great support from the local community in and around Tranent, and I look forward to seeing the final result when the new centre is completed.”

Councillor Jim Goodfellow, East Lothian Council cabinet member for community wellbeing, added: “East Lothian Council has provided both advice and financial support towards this innovative project and it’s excellent news that work will shortly begin to bring this into reality.

“I am sure the new centre will provide a ‘go to’ place that will be enjoyed by the local community of all ages and interests.”

The project start is subject to demolition and building warrants and will begin when this has been concluded and site preparation is complete.

Although fundraising has been achieved, the trust is now looking to raise money to buy Digital Cinema Iniaitives specification cinema equipment, raked seating and decorative features which were removed from the original plan to bring the project cost down.

A spokesperson for Tranent and Elphinstone Community Council welcomed the news the centre was moving forward.

They said: “We are delighted to see the project for the rebuild of The Fraser Centre coming to fruition.

“It is testament to the continued determination of David [Orr, project and development manager] and Jonny as they have worked tirelessly to make this happen and we would like to congratulate them.

“Despite several hurdles, they have never faltered in their conviction that the project would go ahead – an inspiration to many, and what an achievement for what will be a great community facility.”