THE housebuilder responsible for the first houses at the long-awaited new town at Blindwells will be revealed this summer.

The major development project will see 1,600 homes, business units, a supermarket, primary school and various green spaces created at the site of the former opencast mine.

Discussions on transforming the site into a new community have been ongoing for more than two decades.

Already plans are being drawn up for a second phase at the site, which is sandwiched between the A1 north of Tranent and the A198 south of Cockenzie and Port Seton.

Preparatory work is already being carried out on the site, with bird-scaring kites in place along the southern edge beside the A1.

Iain Slater, development and estates director for Hargreaves, which is behind the proposals, said they were on track for work on the first houses to get under way by the end of the year. He said: “We are out to market with all the major housebuilders.

“The response has been very good and we are probably not going to have formal bids back until June 1.”

The preferred housebuilder will then enter into a legal contract with Hargreaves.

Mr Slater added: “That usually takes two or three months.

“By the end of the summer, we will know who will be building the first phase.

“They will then have to submit a planning application, a detailed planning application, for the first plot.

“I think by the end of the year or beginning of next year they should be starting on the site for houses coming out of the ground.”

The first plot will be in the region of 50 houses, depending on the housebuilder’s designs and the size and density of the homes.

The first residents of Blindwells could then be moving into their new home in time for Easter next year, when attentions will turn to the second plot on the site.

Construction work could see as many as 350 jobs created during the lengthy building period.

The long-mooted plans have been on the cards for more than 20 years, with work on the first phase of 1,600 homes expected to take about 12 to 15 years.

Three years ago, early plans for a second phase, to the east of the now-approved first phase, were revealed.

That included a cemetery and leisure space, as well as a further 1,600 homes, although a formal planning application is yet to be submitted to East Lothian Council.