BUSINESSES have been urged to work together amid fears that a retail park on the outskirts of Haddington will have “a detrimental effect” on the town centre.

National chains are expected to form part of the proposed retail park at Haddington’s western gateway.

Aldi, Home Bargains and Costa Coffee have all been named in the planning application as among the businesses proposed for Gateside West, with further plans for a petrol station which would also have a “retail unit”.

Pat Lemmon, manager of the town’s Oxfam store and a member of the town’s community council, was among those who had concerns about the proposed retail park, which would be made up of three retail units, two restaurants and a drive thru/takeaway.

She said: “I think it is just something else that High Street traders are going to have to compete against.

“The only way to do that is with a strong High Street presence through Haddington Business Community Partnership and we have got to find ways into the town.”

The organisation, which is made up a number of different groups within the town, is drawing up plans to ensure the town centre remains strong.

Mrs Lemmon suggested it was “inevitable” that plans for a retail park would come forward after Sainsbury’s received planning permission in 2013 and then sold the land on instead of building a supermarket there.

She noted: “It will have a detrimental effect on the town centre – any development would have.

“At least when it was Sainsbury’s we could control the amount of non-food items being sold but we have no control on what is being sold in the business park.”

Mrs Lemmon said there needed to be “family-orientated things” to attract people into the town centre.

She said Haddington needed an “all-singing, all-dancing” facility similar to the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston.

She added: “We need to up our game and work for the benefit of the town centre.

“We need to see how we can improve and we want attractions to encourage families.”

The plans for Gateside West are split into two applications which are being considered by East Lothian Council’s planning department.

EPIC (No 2) Ltd are behind the plans for the retail units, with a document describing Aldi, Home Bargains and Costa Coffee as “end occupiers”.

The other businesses have not been named, although images contained within the plans suggest Food Warehouse, which is linked to the Iceland supermarket chain, could be included.

The second application, which has been lodged by Euro Garages Ltd and EPIC (No 2) Ltd, shows a petrol station with four petrol pumps, a shop and toilets.

Jim Graham, of Graham the Jeweller and also a community councillor, echoed concerns that the development would take people away from the town centre.

He said: “It depends on what is going to be there; it seems to be a bit of a secret. We are not told what is going to go in there so we cannot prepare.”

Hundreds of houses bringing thousands of new residents are already being built on the outskirts of the town.

Mr Graham felt the town’s expansion was bringing people into the town centre but it was important that this continued to be the case.

He said: “We take in lots of repairs and we take down everybody’s address.

“We are getting a lot of addresses which we do not recognise, which is great.”