PLANS for a “transport hub”, including a car park of up to 240 spaces, on Haddington’s eastern edge will be revealed next month.

Following a series of closed door meetings, proposals by East Lothian Council for land next to Whittingehame Drive will be revealed to the public at a drop-in meeting in Haddington Town House on December 16, 1-7pm.

A proposal of application (PAN) notice for the site, which surrounds the town’s skate park and all-weather 3G sports pitches, was validated by the local authority’s planning department last Wednesday.

The simple drawings, which do not give any specific detail, show an area of land stretching from almost the gates at Haddington Golf Club in the south to the River Tyne in the north. The site borders the golf course and St Martin’s Cemetery.

A formal planning application, which should set out exactly what is planned, is yet to be submitted.

The local authority says it wants to create a “transport hub with associated parking spaces” and “bus connections, bike hire opportunities and new pathways”.

If approved, this would, says the council, have “the potential to free up parking spaces in the town centre for short-stay use, making it easier for people to access local businesses, essential services and tourist attractions”.

Work on the project, if approved, could begin as early as April next year. The car park would have somewhere between 180 and 240 spaces, the Courier has learnt.

But some community figures in Haddington have accused the council of keeping people in the dark over the project.

Liz McDougall, chairwoman of the Nungate Gala, said: “My thoughts are it is such a bad move.

“It is going to endanger kids’ lives and I cannot see the relevance in putting the car park down there.

“They would be much better putting it on the other side of the town where they are throwing up houses and a school [at Letham Mains].”

Mrs McDougall questioned why the early plans had been made public last Wednesday – the day after the town’s community council meeting – when they were listed as being published the day beforehand on the local authority’s planning site.

She encouraged as many members of the public as possible to go to the drop-in meeting.

Mrs McDougall said: “I will do everything in my power and if that means trawling through the Nungate to get people to sign a petition against it I will.

"This should not be done.”

Pat Lemmon, from the town’s community council, felt there were a number of questions yet to be answered.

She said: “I find it very hard that the plans came in the day after the community council meeting. The timing was bad.”

The Whittingehame Drive plans come as early-stage proposals have been mooted for a complete revamp of parking in the centre of Haddington, which, as previously reported by the Courier, could see the long-stay car park at the town’s Tesco be made short-stay and the loss of up to 40 parking spaces on High Street and Market Street, a prospect which has concerned some town traders.

The Courier submitted a number of written questions to East Lothian Council about the transport hub plans, including whether there would be a charge to use the car park and shuttle buses to the town centre; what the project’s cost would be and how it would be funded. The council responded that “work on developing the proposals is still ongoing”, adding: “We will set out more detailed plans in the months ahead, when such information is available.”

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “The local community in Haddington first put forward their ideas in their ‘Vision for Haddington Town Centre’ back in 2012 and East Lothian Council has been supporting them in delivering their aims which includes ‘improving the attractiveness, functionality and accessibility of the town in support of the community and local businesses’.

“Working closely with local groups, East Lothian Council’s priorities are to protect and enhance the local environment while supporting the local economy, including town centre retailers and other businesses.

"The plans are ambitious and seek to create a transport hub with associated parking spaces that addresses climate change through the inclusion of EV chargepoints, bus connections, bike hire opportunities and new pathways.

"This has the potential to free-up parking spaces in the town centre for short-stay use, making it easier for people to access local businesses, essential services, and tourist attractions during the day.

"To help develop these proposals the council has secured significant funding from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund and has also made an application to the European Regional Development Fund.

“A public exhibition, where initial plans can be viewed, is expected to be held before Christmas.

"Comments received will help to form a full planning application and so it’s too early to provide further details at this stage but East Lothian Council remains committed to continuing our engagement with local stakeholders on this initiative and setting out more detailed plans in the months ahead.”