GROUNDWORKS have started on a development of 140 flats in Musselburgh town centre – more than a decade after the housing plan was first approved.

Permission in principle for a mixed-use development on part of the former Tesco supermarket and Brunton Wire Works site was granted in September 2008 and, out of that development, the new Tesco store has already been built, as well as Musselburgh Primary Care Facility on Inveresk Road.

The residential development, which received detailed planning consent in 2017, will include a mix of one, two and three-bedroom flats, of which 129 are for private sale and 11 are affordable housing.

A spokesperson for developer Dundas Estates & Development said: “It’s expected that the first properties will be handed over in approximately 14-18 months and it’s expected work will be completed in approximately four years.”

He added that the prices of the properties had not been confirmed.

Jason Rose, community campaigner, said: “Back in 2017, I issued a call for people to have their say on the future of the former supermarket site on Mall Avenue as it had become an eyesore.

“Lots of ideas came in, ranging from genuinely affordable or sheltered housing to a park, allotments and a new leisure centre.

“But it looks like Dundas Estates are finally pressing ahead, 12 years after originally getting planning permission for 140 flats, only 11 of them affordable.”

He claimed: “The blocks that will be built, some of them six storeys high, will have quite an impact, especially with 140 car parking spaces. Will the developer compensate for the resulting increase in congestion and air pollution? Have they been asked to contribute toward making local streets safer for walking and cycling, or funding additional bus services?

“As I recall, the development contains no community space whatsoever, which is a real shame for such a prime town centre site.”

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “This application dates from 2006 and conditions attached were appropriate to both the planning legislation and the local development plan of that time.

“The conditions include developer contribution towards education provision at Musselburgh Burgh Primary and Musselburgh Grammar School and to local bus services. In addition, the developer is required to plant additional trees on the site.”

Heather Birrell, sales and marketing manager at Dundas Estates, said: “We think the development will be a fantastic addition to the community, providing quality housing in a currently underused area, while also fitting seamlessly into its new setting.”

Part of the former Tesco site was also sold to East Lothian Council for a new care home, which has not yet been built.

The council spokesperson said: “Whilst the application still includes a care home, there is no indication of any planned progress for this element, only the flats.”