ALDI, Home Bargains and Costa Coffee – as well as a petrol station – could be coming to Haddington’s western gateway as part of an ambitious bid for the town’s first retail park.

The national chains are central to proposals for three retail units and two cafes/restaurants at Gateside West.

Developer EPIC (No. 2) Ltd has lodged plans with East Lothian Council for the currently vacant site and members of the public can have their say on the proposals.

If approved, about 200 jobs would be created at the retail park, with a further 75 construction jobs during the building process.

The site, previously earmarked as a Sainsbury’s supermarket, is sandwiched between the A199 and B6471, with the Oak Tree junction of the A1 to the west, and would become home to nearly 300 parking spaces.

East Lothian Courier:

A diagram showing the layout of the proposed retail park at Gateside West. The three retail units and two cafe/restaurants are shaded light blue, with the car park shaded grey. The white space to the west of the car park is earmarked for a petrol station

The developers are hopeful that work could begin on the site later this year, with a view to businesses being open in summer 2020.

A planning and retail statement states: “The end occupiers are confirmed as Aldi and Home Bargains for the retail and Costa for the restaurant/cafe unit.

“The other [two] occupiers are still to be confirmed.”

A second, separate application for a petrol station, with shop, in the south-west corner of the site has also been submitted by EPIC (No.2) Ltd and Euro Garages Ltd.

Drawings show four petrol pumps, with toilets within the shop.

Councillor Tom Trotter, who represents Haddington, was keen to see development take place on the site, which he described as “a blank, empty space”.

He said: “Obviously, I am very sympathetic towards to the town centre and work closely with them but hopefully the idea is the more people we can attract to the town the better.

“The job will be getting them to go into the town centre to use the shops there.

“Overall, I am hoping it does not have a drastic effect on their businesses.

“They are the heart of Haddington and have been for a long time. The last thing anybody would want to do is affect their business or status in the town.”

Fellow ward councillor Provost John McMillan is part of the planning committee, which could ultimately decide the fate of the proposals, so was unable to comment.

The developer purchased the site, which measures about 47,000 square feet, in February last year and has been working to draw up proposals for the land.

A sign recently appeared at the site suggesting that a new retail development was “coming soon”.

Paul Darling, planning liaison officer with Haddington and District Community Council, felt that a number of concerns raised during the public consultation last year had been listened to by the developer.

Comments had been made about how the development would impact upon the existing town centre businesses, as well as the appearance and size of the units on-site.

Mr Darling echoed Mr Trotter’s comments and said it was important the businesses in the town were able to “drag” people into the town centre.

Joanna Gibson, chairwoman of Haddington Business Community Partnership (HBCP), felt that time would tell whether the proposed retail park would impact on the town centre.

She said: “My view is that we are already seeing lots of new faces in the town, which is really positive.We need to encourage people from the new houses into the town to let them experience all the great shops, cafes and services we have to offer.

“Only time will tell whether or not the retail park will have an effect on trade but what does worry me personally is the threat of reduced parking in the town centre, possible introduction of parking charges and free parking at the new retail space.”

Spokespeople for the three businesses were tight-lipped about any potential interest in the site. Costa declined to comment while the application was in the planning stages, while Aldi said the store was “not currently on our radar”, despite the planning statement saying otherwise.