A COUPLE credited with turning around a once-troubled town centre pub are looking to open their own new drinking establishment next door.

Michael and Wendy Peters took over the Gardeners Arms in Haddington in 2011 when its licence had come under review because of problems experienced by previous management.

A meeting of East Lothian Council’s licensing board last Thursday heard that since the Peters took charge of the pub there had not been a single complaint about it.

Now the couple have applied for permission to turn the building next door – which currently operates as Jo’s Kitchen – into a pub which they plan to name the New Pheasant.

The name is a reference to the building’s previous history as The Pheasant pub before it shut in 2009.

Mr and Mrs Peters’ agent highlighted articles in the Courier to the licensing board that showed the problems at the Gardeners Arms before the couple took it over.

He said: “Before they took over there were some interesting Courier articles which described the pub as a disgrace.

“Since they took over, the Courier articles were about a disgraced pub being turned around.”

Applying for a major variation to the current licence held by Jo’s Kitchen, the agent said that the Peters’ current role managing the Gardeners Arms was coming to an end next month and they were keen to move on to their own establishment.

The board heard two objections had been received, along with two letters of support, all from neighbouring residents.

Both objections raised concerns about noise, as well as pointing out that there were already three pubs in the town with ‘to let’ signs up. But the board was told the fact other pubs were available to let was not relevant.

Rudy Fruzynski, East Lothian licensing standards officer, told the board he was happy to support the application, confirming that there had been no complaints about the operation of the Gardeners Arms since the Peters took over.

He added: “In recent times, the anti-social behaviour team has received a substantial complaint made by a resident in the area complaining about late-evening noise with persons congregating on Market Street and using nearby Cross Lane as a thoroughfare from High Street.

“This problem cannot be directly attributed to licensed premises on Market Street. It is more likely to be related to the make-up of the area as a whole, being a focal point for persons seeking the services of many different types of business that are open in the evenings, particularly at weekends.”

The board unanimously approved the application, with a request from Police Scotland agreed for children under the age of 15 to vacate the new premises by 8pm and 16 and 17-year-olds to leave by 10pm.

A request from Police Scotland for outdoor drinking hours to be reduced from 9pm to 8pm was not supported by the licensing board as it conflicted with the current hours for the Gardeners Arms.