PROTESTORS took to the streets of Haddington once again as the latest plans for a transport hub on the edge of the town were revealed.

The facility, which would include 220 parking spaces, would be accessed off Whittingehame Drive and would see spaces sandwiched between the town’s 3G pitch and St Martin’s Cemetery, with a further section of car park to the south of the skate park.

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Proposals also include changing the long-stay car park near the town’s Tesco to short-stay, as well as making a small number of spaces at the council’s car park at John Muir House available to the public during the working week.

More than 250 people attended the public exhibition on Tuesday, with a similar figure expected at the second day of the event yesterday (Wednesday).

The plans, which have been heavily criticised by a number of the town’s business owners, would not only feature parking spaces, electric vehicle charge points and cycle hire facilities but also “upgraded pedestrian and cycle connections and crossings” and “interactive message boards and wayfinding measures”.

The exhibition, which ran from 2pm to 7.30pm, took place in Haddington Town House.

Shortly after 5pm, more than a dozen traders and residents reduced traffic on Haddington High Street to walking pace – as they did during a previous public consultation before Christmas – to protest against the proposals.

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Among those taking part in the protest and visiting the exhibition was Pat Lemmon, from the town’s community council.

She said: “The exhibition was done in a very open manner, more council officials were there and councillors in attendance.

“I think they saw how people were feeling and it was stated by one official that, while they may not agree with what people opposing the plans are saying, they are listening.”

Mrs Lemmon agreed that steps had to be taken to solve parking issues in the town but “not at the expense of businesses in central Haddington”.

Liz McDougall, who lives in the Nungate, agreed something needed to be done but was convinced Whittingehame Drive was not the correct location. Her concerns included the loss of green space and the increase in vehicles around the 3G pitch and skate park.

Mrs McDougall added that East Lothian Council had done “absolutely nothing” to convince her that Whittingehame Drive was the best site for the facility and feared it was “a done deal”. She instead suggested land at Herdmanflat Hospital.

The first consultation event took place in December, when details were given on 10 potential sites for the new transport hub.

But seven of those were ruled out for various reasons, which left two sites off Whittingehame Drive and another off the A199, opposite the Jet Petrol Station.

Issues with the last mentioned site were also highlighted, including the distance from the town centre – despite it being just 0.5 miles, compared to Whittingehame Drive, which is 0.4 miles.

A further seven sites have since been considered – land adjacent to the River Tyne at Nungate Gardens, the east side of Hardgate close to the River Tyne, northeast of Hospital Road, land southwest of Nungate Bridge, land northeast of Tynebank Road, a multi-storey car park at John Muir House, and Alderston House – but also ruled out.

“[Haddington] is forecast to see population/employment growth over the next five to 10 years which will increase parking demand,” read one of the boards at the exhibition.

“Failure to address the balance of parking capacity within the town centre is likely to increase the occurrence of nuisance parking and congestion within the town centre and surrounding residential areas which would be detrimental to the area.”

The exhibition also highlighted plans for the town centre, including narrowing High Street to traffic.

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Details note: “As part of a separate working proposal, public realm spaces on High Street, Market Street and Hardgate are to be improved to provide high-quality facilities which would attract visitors and lead to increased pedestrian activity. Various proposals are still under consideration.”

Parking in the town centre would “primarily” become short stay, with further time restriction in place to “improve parking turnover and unlock economic benefit for local businesses”.

Tom Reid, head of infrastructure at the council, said the “potential re-designation of some existing long-stay car parking for short-stay use” would “create more short spaces for shoppers and visitors to the town centre than is presently available”.

“Long-stay car parking – including for commuters working in the town – would be provided through an edge-of-centre transport hub at Whittingehame Drive, incorporating new options for sustainable travel,” he added, encouraging people to respond to an online consultation on the plans which is available on the council’s consultation hub.

A design review will now be carried out by the council; the local authority hopes to submit a planning application next month. If approved, it hopes to start work by the summer.