BUSINESSMAN George Thomson has confirmed that the first phase of his Winton Place re-development should be completed by the beginning of next month.

Mr Thomson, the town’s former postmaster, bought the former Co-op building in 2015 with his wife Susan, the current postmaster, and will install a cafe, bistro, children’s soft play, and Post Office into the building.

He told the Courier: “We’re in the first phase, which if you like is the Historic Scotland listed building part, which is going to be a brand new Post Office, convenience store, a coffee shop and bistro with about 100 seats inside and about 60 seats outside under a canopy. That’ll be opening in November.”

Mr Thomson’s plans also include 17 flats for the building, which he hopes will be social housing.

He said: “We’re hoping the whole thing can be finished by the start of May 2020. The flats are going to be for social housing, preferably with East Lothian Council or East Lothian Housing Association, so really the timelines we have to do together.

“We want social housing because there’s a housing crisis in East Lothian and we want to try and help people with that.”

The Tranent resident was also very complimentary of the work of youth group Recharge.

He said: “Recharge have been in this building a very long time and Alan [Bell] runs it very well.

“One of the key things that I wanted to make sure of when my wife and I bought this building was we wanted to keep them on site as they do a fantastic job.”

After phase one is complete, work will start on phase two of the project.

The next phase will include two small shops, flats, a soft play area and a community hall which will, it is hoped, hold about 130 people, as well as a kitchen and bar.

Alan Bell, Recharge manager, was pleased the charity will get a new home within the building – they currently use part of the ground floor.

He told the Courier: “I think certainly, from our point of view, having a purpose-built facility will be fantastic.

“It will really be able to extend the work we can do and help us reach out to a lot of young people that we currently struggle to engage with, because of our space limitations.

“With it being purpose-built as well it means we’ll be able to do more work with young people, so there will be rooms designed for specific tasks, whereas in here, we just adapt the rooms as we can. That will make a massive difference.”

He also reassured those who use their facilities at the moment that they will not be going away any time soon.

Mr Bell added: “The building is secure and we will have a base to operate from whilst the work is being done. Recharge are still operating while the building is developed.”