WALKERS and cyclists keen to travel safely between Gullane and West Fenton have been given a boost after plans for a footpath connecting the villages took a big step forward.

After reaching an agreement with landowners, housing developer CALA Homes will fund construction of the path, which is nearly half a mile long.

The route, which was given planning permission by East Lothian Council, will link the future development of Saltcoats Field, on Gullane’s southern edge, with West Fenton.

The news was welcomed by Councillor Jeremy Findlay, who lives in Gullane.

The North Berwick Coastal ward member said: “I am very pleased it has got the go ahead as it is a vital part of the plans to create a safe route from Gullane to Drem.

“The various interested parties now have to get together and try and solve the puzzle of the missing link which is the last few yards of the proposed path at the Drem end.”

The granting of planning permission was also welcomed by Iain Monk, who has been part of a long-standing campaign group calling for a safe route for walkers and cyclists between Gullane and Drem.

It is hoped a path connecting the two villages will take pedestrians and cyclists away from the busy B1345.

Mr Monk, representing the Drem-Gullane Path Campaign, described the step forward as “brilliant news”.

He told the Courier: “Once constructed, the path will allow residents, young and old, to travel safely between Gullane and West Fenton. We are certain it will also prove popular with visitors to the area.

“Our thanks to local landowners and CALA Homes for making this happen. As a result of the climate emergency and the Covid-19 public health emergency, many more people in East Lothian are choosing to cycle and walk to stay active.

“That is why more segregated active travel infrastructure, like the Gullane-West Fenton link, is so important to create safe, attractive, healthier places.”

The route will also include a bridge over the Mill Burn as the path makes its way south.

Tony Thomas, director of APT Planning and Development, worked with CALA Homes on its application and added: “We hope that the path will encourage non-car travel including safer access to Gullane Primary School and the village as a whole.”

Plans for the 1.2-metre (four-foot) wide footpath were largely welcomed by the community. The village’s community council was one of two objections to the proposals.

According to the planning officer’s report: “While they welcome the idea of improving the safety of pedestrians walking between Gullane and West Fenton, they have concerns with regards to the width of the pathway in terms of the safety of shared use by pedestrians and cyclists, as well as concerns over the long-term maintenance of the path.”

However, East Lothian Council also received 33 letters of support for the scheme, which highlighted the benefits of the path in improving walking and cycling links in the area.