CALLS have been made for East Lothian Council to consider buying a supermarket site and creating a car park – if the business moves to another location in Haddington.

Aldi is among the businesses named in a planning application for a retail park on Haddington’s western edge.

Those proposals are still being weighed up by the council but, if approved, it could see Aldi move from its current home off Whittingehame Drive to the new development at Gateside West.

That would leave an empty site, with community councillors in the town suggesting that the council look into creating a new town centre car park there.

Jan Wilson, chairwoman of Haddington and District Community Council, was among those backing the idea.

She said: “That would be a great thing to happen because we are needing the spaces.

“East Lothian Council have bought [the hospital site at] Herdmanflat and, if they can buy over that, I hope they would be able to buy Aldi, although I am surprised if Aldi were moving.”

Concerns about town centre parking have been raised on a regular basis, with fears that there are not enough spaces to ensure people can use the town’s businesses.

Paul Darling, one of the community council’s planning liaison officers, also felt it was worth weighing up the idea of transforming the site.

He said: “If [the council] can buy it, that would be great.

“But if somebody is there saying it is a brand new shop and they can walk in, change the logo and open, they are going to put in a slightly higher bid than what the council can put in.”

Pat Lemmon, who works in the town centre, felt it was a good location for a potential car park.

She said that changes planned for the town centre were suggesting parking spaces could be lost and an alternative “had to be found”.

The community councillor told the Courier: “I cannot see East Lothian Council giving up their car park or the long-stay car park at Tesco, which they seem to fill up first thing in the morning. Another car park has been mooted for a long time.”

However, echoing Mr Darling’s view, she felt that it was more likely that another supermarket or retailer would move into the site if Aldi decided to move.

The town centre site has been home to a supermarket for more than 25 years, with Aldi setting up shop about a decade ago.

When the plans for the retail park at Gateside West were lodged, the supermarket giants distanced themselves from any potential move, despite being named in the plans – along with coffee chain Costa and Home Bargains – as “end occupiers” confirmed for the site.

A spokeswoman for Aldi said the new store was “not currently on our radar”.

The Gateside development would be made up of three retail units, two restaurants/cafes and a drive-thru takeaway, with Greggs and The Food Warehouse also linked.

A petrol station and retail unit are also being earmarked for the site.

Currently, the Aldi store site has more than 40 parking spaces but that number would increase if the supermarket building were demolished.

A council spokeswoman said: “These are speculative comments and we believe that Aldi has dismissed rumours that they may move location.

“In general terms, any changes of use to sites within Haddington would be open to consultation with local residents and businesses.”