CONTROVERSIAL plans for a retirement village on prime agricultural land on the outskirts of North Berwick are being amended after developers reduced the proposed height of the main hub building.

Goldcrest Communities Limited and Richmond Care Villages Holdings Limited revealed plans for land at Castleton Farm just days before Christmas last year.

However, Richmond Care Villages have now announced they have stepped away from the £49 million project, with Goldcrest Communities now altering their proposals, including reducing the height of one of the planned buildings.

In March, members of the public filled St Andrew Blackadder Church, in North Berwick, to hear more information about the plans for a care village to the east of the town.

The proposed development includes 114 independent living units with care, 38 assisted living units and a 60-bed care home along with a community hub, landscaped gardens, woodland walks, allotments, a spa and wellness centre and restaurant and bar.

On Tuesday afternoon, a spokesman for Goldcrest Communities told the Courier they remained committed to the scheme.

He said: “One of the key benefits to a proposed retirement village development is providing positive long-term healthcare and economic impact to the whole community and local area including new employment opportunities for local people, new income for local businesses and improved social care facilities which will reduce the burden on the NHS.

“We remain firmly of that opinion.

“At all times we have listened to the concerns of local residents – we have attended three community meetings – and have adapted our proposal over time while remaining very clear about the longer term economic and healthcare benefits for North Berwick and the surrounding area.

“In a further concession to concerns about the visual impact expressed by some local residents, we have decided to reduce the height of the development’s hub building by one storey and that will be reflected by amending the planning application.

“The retirement village concept is well established in England and in many countries across the world but is still relatively new in Scotland so we do appreciate that some will have a level of concern but this development is about the providing for needs of future residents and an ageing local population.”

According to the spokesman, the changes are not sufficient enough for a new planning application to to be submitted.

Meanwhile, Martin Young, head of development for Richmond Villages, thanked everyone for feeding back to them about the proposals.

He said: “We’ve decided to withdraw interest in the potential development in North Berwick.

“Our retirement villages play an active role within their local community – not only to benefit our residents, but also other local people and community groups.

“We recognise the concerns raised by local residents regarding the location of the site and this was one of the factors in our decision.

“I’d like to thank those who’ve been in touch to share their thoughts.”

Previously, both East Lothian’s MSP and MP had expressed concerns about the scale of the development being planned for land south of the A198 and between Rhodes Holdings and Bass Rock View.

Iain Gray MSP noted the development was not on a site considered for development within East Lothian Council’s local development while Kenny MacAskill MP was concerned the development would “swamp” local services.