A LONG-AWAITED Italian restaurant could open its doors in Haddington town centre within a matter of months.

Councillors were updated on the plans for the former Procurator Fiscal office on Court Street at a meeting of East Lothian Council’s licensing board.

Planning permission was given to Meucci Ltd in December 2015 to change the building into a cafe/bistro.

But since then there have been a number of problems which has delayed the restaurant’s opening.

Alistair Macdonald, representing Franco Cucchi, who runs Cucina Amore restaurant in North Berwick and is a director of Meucci Ltd, explained that the project was now heading in the right direction with hopes the new eaterie, which is expected to be called Meucci, could open before Easter.

He said: “First of all, it is self-explanatory that no one who acquired these premises would want the place lying empty for four years.

“That was the furthest thing from their thoughts.”

A contract had been agreed with a firm of builders but the building warrant took longer than anticipated.

The building firm then moved on to another job before the warrant was secured, with the replacement contractor “not up to the job”.

But Mr Macdonald was pleased to say the end was now in sight and told the board: “The good news is that if you look at it now, it is fairly well advanced.

“I think that it is March/April that it is hoped it will open.”

Members of the licensing board, which met in the Town House, just yards from the building, agreed to the request for an extension to the provisional licence.

Provost John McMillan, who is part of the licensing board and represents Haddington on East Lothian Council, said: “I think that it is good to hear [that it is going to be opening soon]. In terms of attracting people into the town centre, there has been a lot of interest in what’s happening.

“I have heard various reasons but I think the key thing to know is there is a real possibility of it opening and attracting more people into the town centre, particularly where I think an evening culture is important.

“We have already got good restaurants and pubs to be able to attract people from perhaps Edinburgh and encourage people to come and visit the town centre.

“This is another attraction, particularly as it is a family firm known in the county.

“Let’s look on the positive, it is opening.”