THE man behind plans to breathe new life into a restaurant and pub with rooms in Haddington town centre has vowed he is there for the long-term.

The Victoria Inn, on the town’s Court Street, has been shut for about a year but work to improve and re-open the building is now under way.

Craig Douglas, who has now leased the premises, has vowed to restore the venue to its former glory.

He said: “I’m quite aware it has been empty for a while and it was being run by a management company for a short period of time.

“I want to bring stability to the area and we have to instil a bit of confidence in the locals. We are here for a long time not just a quick fix.”

He described it as “a gorgeous building in a gorgeous area” and said it “huge potential”.

Work at the building, which is also home to The Avenue restaurant, will be carried out over three stages. A bar refurbishment is taking place at the moment and the new bar should be open in the coming weeks

Then, attention will turn to the restaurant, with Mr Douglas keen to see that up and running by “mid to late August”.

Finally, work will be carried out on the five rooms above the premises.

Mr Douglas, who has been involved in the industry in Edinburgh and Spain for a number of years, expected the rooms might not be in use until after the summer tourist season.

He said: “It has got the facilities for us to do nice fresh, gastropub, homemade food. We are going to try to source local produce.”

The premises were previously owned by Greene King, who also own Belhaven Brewery.

Mr Douglas, 52, from Edinburgh, who also runs The Old Aberlady Inn, said: “I remember years ago I used to play rugby and I remember coming down to play Haddington.

The Victoria Inn used to be absolutely packed.

“If my memory serves me right, you would struggle to get a seat in the place.I would like to bring that back to the area again.”

Councillor Craig Hoy, who lives in the town, was happy to hear the prominent building was being brought back into use.

He said: “If we can strengthen Haddington’s reputation as a food and drink destination at the heart of East Lothian, which is renowned for its farming and food production, it is something we can really build on in East Lothian and beyond. It is really important we give our support to the new restaurants and bars and I will certainly be doing that.”