AS MANY as 200 jobs could be created if a £15 million development at Gateside in Haddington is given the go-ahead.

A retail development with four units and a ‘drive-thru’ coffee shop are proposed at the site to the west of the town, close to the Oak Tree Junction of the A1.

The land had previously been owned by Sainsbury’s who had permission for a new supermarket there; but their long-stalled plans were finally ditched when they sold the land earlier this year.

A public exhibition took place at the town’s John Gray Centre last Tuesday where those behind the plans were on hand to answer local residents’ questions.

Alex Mitchell, director of Zander Planning, admitted there had been a “mixed reaction” from the people who turned up.

He said: “We have had a great turnout – some people have been supportive and think that it will be of benefit to the town but others are worried about what it will do to the town centre.”

Alastair Dickie, development director at Ediston Real Estate, which are behind the plans, added: “I think there have been a lot of valid comments.”

The names of the businesses looking to move into the site have not yet been revealed but it is hoped that their identities will become public by the time a planning application is submitted to East Lothian Council.

Mr Mitchell hopes a detailed planning application will be lodged before the end of the summer. He said: “If we can get an application in by about September then we’re probably looking at six months for planning [approval]. If we get [that] we could be on-site in spring 2019.

“I’m sure retailers would want to be open before Christmas but that is probably a bit tight so we’d be looking at early 2020.”

Mr Mitchell also attempted to allay fears over the volume of traffic on the road by adding: “We’re looking to create a filter lane so people coming in [to the new retail park] would not cause queues for people getting into the town.”

Paul Darling, one of the planning liaison officers at the town’s community council, attended the exhibition.

He said the buildings proposed were “ugly” but added: “I am not against the plans, I just think the buildings have to be more in-keeping with the rest of the town.

“I think that it could actually bring people to the town but it is a bit of a worry what could happen to the shops in the town centre.”

The site had long been earmarked for Sainsbury’s after it won a lengthy battle with Tesco to build on the site in 2013.