A BID to demolish The Ship Inn in Musselburgh and replace it with a new pub, seafood restaurant and 15 flats has been launched.

Owner Caledonian Heritable is seeking planning consent from East Lothian Council to redevelop the well-known hostelry on North High Street to create a “great, new landmark” for the town which aims to celebrate its local culture and harbour heritage.

The “expanded” Ship Inn would have 15 two-bedroom apartments above, plus a bicycle and bin store in a tenement-style building of brick and zinc with three gables.

The commercial/restaurant space of 470 square metres, which would offer seafood dining alongside a traditional pub, would be located on the ground floor facing the main road into Musselburgh, with “a visible, welcoming entrance”.

“At street level, expansive glass will be employed to enhance the aspiration for a dynamic and engaging streetscape by directly translating the activity of the restaurant to passers-by,” say Oberlanders Architects in the supporting design statement.

They added: “The scheme aims to create an appropriately civic and active streetscape, and define a new gateway into the harbour town of Musselburgh.

"The traditional pitched roof gable alludes to the adjacent harbourside architecture.

“A traditional tenement scale of development creates an appropriate gateway condition to North High Street, generated by residential apartments above the ground floor commercial use.

“The development site lies adjacent to and surrounded by extensive areas of on-street and public car parking, facilitating development that seeks to prioritise a sense of place, social and residential amenity. Accordingly, the proposed residential accommodation is to be car free. The development site lies directly on exceptional public transport routes, connecting the development site directly to East Lothian, Edinburgh and beyond.”

Denis Batts of Caledonian Heritable said: “Caledonian are seeking to revitalise these premises with an exciting proposal which we believe will be good for local residents, and the Musselburgh and East Lothian environment in general.”

Andrew Wilmot of Oberlanders Architects added: “We have a client with a great sense of tradition but also future vision.

“Their aspiration is to keep the existing public bar and expand it through the week into a restaurant specialising in seafood and celebrating the local culture and heritage of the harbour.

“We’ll be retaining the traditional bar but wrapping it in a distinctive, traditionally shaped new building.

“The shape of the ‘three gables’ will be memorable and help orientate visitors from the High Street towards the harbour, which unfortunately isn’t that obvious at the moment. We’ve heard of visitors being directed to the harbour by finding it ‘behind the petrol station’. We think the Ship can become a great new landmark for Musselburgh and one that helps in finding Harbour Road, where town meets harbour.

“We’re also looking to deliver much-needed new homes, following the good old tenement tradition of flats above the pub, helping to shape a vibrant and sustainable little development.”

Barry Turner, spokesman for Musselburgh Conservation Society, said: “There is some concern in the community over the potential demolition of The Ship Inn.

“The building is an important and historic one in the townscape of Musselburgh, forming a key and familiar backdrop to the entry to the town from the Edinburgh Road.

“The conservation society would wish to see the core frontage building retained in any development of the larger site in order to preserve the character of this part of the town.

“The issue here is that there appears to be no protection in national or local planning policy for buildings like The Ship Inn which are of some importance locally. It is not listed as far as is known and it is not within a conservation area.

“Just as happened with the nearby Quay building, the planners will have no clear policy basis for supporting any objections that might come from the local community.

“The society takes the view that protecting townscape and character should be taken as a material consideration in this case to fill the policy gap.

“The cumulative impact on character of this proposal, when added to the planned drive-through coffee shop across the road also needs to be considered.”

Colin Beattie, MSP for Musselburgh, said: “Like many I will regret the passing of a much-loved landmark pub.

“However, if the designs I have seen some to fruition, the proposed new build and configuration looks to enhance and renew this part of Musselburgh.

Regeneration of the area is much needed and I hope that this change will help drive that.”