A DECISION on the fate of The Quay in Musselburgh has been delayed until the end of this month, amid concern that the empty building could start to become dilapidated and an attraction for vandals.

It had been expected that the reporter appointed by the Scottish Government to examine a planning appeal would make a ruling on the proposal to convert the former leisure complex, restaurant and function suites into a 40-bed care facility at the end of last week.

However, it is now anticipated that a decision will not be made until the end of March.

Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, said: “I have written to the [Scottish Government’s] Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) and I have received a response from the case manager to advise that there will be a further delay on the decision for The Quay development application due to the reporter being ill.

“I am disappointed with the time it has taken to reach this decision and I am hopeful that the reporter will have made the announcement at the end of March with no more delays.

“I will continue to keep pressure on DPEA and ensure that I am kept up to date with any progress that is made.”

Lodged by Simply Musselburgh Care Limited, the appeal followed East Lothian Council’s refusal of the plan last summer.

A meeting of the planning committee last June regarding The Quay, located by Fisherrow Harbour and owned by Dr Charan Gill, ended with a near-unanimous decision to turn down the nursing home proposal.

Only Councillor Norman Hampshire, planning committee convener, backed council officials’ recommendation to approve the plan.

Dr Gill said that he hoped the reporter was now back to health and fitness, and would be in a position to make a decision on the appeal “very, very shortly”.

He expressed concern that the building had lain empty for a year and would become “dilapidated and dangerous.”

“It will start to deteriorate and an empty building attracts vandalism,” he said.

He added: “There is someone waiting to pump £5 million into the Musselburgh economy.”

Local groups including Musselburgh and Inveresk Community Council, Musselburgh Area Partnership and Musselburgh Conservation Society among others have called for the appeal to be thrown out.

Ward member Councillor Stuart Currie, who does not sit on the planning committee, said: “It is disappointing that we will not know the outcome of the appeal until the end of March.

“I hope it will be rejected and then I believe the facilities should be secured for the benefit of economic development, tourism and the local community.”