AN HISTORIC building at the heart of Haddington will not re-open until summer 2020.

The main hall of the town’s Corn Exchange has been out of use since the beginning of February, although the town’s lunch club has continued to use the back hall.

Originally the building, which is to undergo an £800,000 refurbishment, was due to be closed until early November.

However, that date has now been ruled out and it is unclear if the building will be open in time for next year’s Haddington Festival.

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “While it had been expected that refurbishment work would have started earlier, further intrusive survey work has been necessary before progress can be made.

“We are pleased that this survey activity has been carried out and we are looking forward to seeing refurbishment work move forward.

“We recognise that the Corn Exchange is a well-used facility in Haddington and the wider area and appreciate the patience and understanding of its users.

“Ultimately the refurbishment will deliver significant improvements to this much-loved Victorian building, enabling visitors to enjoy the benefits of this historic building at the heart of the town centre for years to come.”

The building dates back to 1854 and has held everything from concerts and badminton classes to blood donation sessions and table top sales.

The “careful and extensive inspection” of the fabric of the building has been given as the reason behind the delay for work getting under way.

Now, it is hoped, work will start on September 9 and be finished by the summer of next year.

The main project work includes installing new roof lights in the main hall, roof repairs, replacing timber flooring in the main hall, creating a new storage area, new kitchen, additional toilets and redecoration.

While tenders for the project were received earlier this year, it was felt necessary for specialist contractors to carry out further intrusive survey work to establish whether hidden defects may be present in the building.

As a result of the intrusive survey work, it has not been possible for the main hall to be used in recent months.

Haddington’s community council has used the Court Street building as a base for its annual festival but was unable to do so this year.

Pat Lemmon, from the town’s community council, stressed there was an acknowledgement that the work needed to be done but she was disappointed in how the matter was progressing.

She said: “If I remember right, all this time it has been closed and next to no work has been going on. It has had an effect on this year’s festival and it would have been nice to be involved in why there were such long delays before the work even commenced.

“It is the largest venue in East Lothian for entertainment and the town has suffered with not being able to use it.

“It is important the work is done but I cannot understand why there is such a delay before the work has started.”