PLANS are being drawn up to see nearly £1 million spent on a Medieval tower and doocot at the heart of Prestonpans.

Councillors agreed to set aside £900,000 last September to restore Preston Tower, with the money previously earmarked for a controversial car park off Haddington’s Whittingehame Drive.

East Lothian Council announced last week that the proposals – which will be split into two phases after evidence of protected species was found at the site – were taking shape.

The first phase will see the restoration of the doocot, the installation of new architectural lighting and the installation of new interpretation/information boards, which will be developed in collaboration with the local community.

The project, which is expected to cost up to £900,000, is being supported by the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund and progressed by East Lothian Council in collaboration with building owners the National Trust for Scotland and with the support of the Preston Seton Gosford Area Partnership and the National Lottery-funded Great Place Project.

A project manager from building surveyors Doig and Smith has been brought on board to lead the project team, as well as project consultant Groves Raines Architects.

The first phase of works could get under way this summer – subject to ecological advice – with the second phase to feature work to the tower itself – such as repairs to walls.

Tom Reid, head of infrastructure at East Lothian Council, was pleased to see the scheme moving forward.

He said: “We’re pleased that the project team is making good progress with this project to enhance a much-loved local landmark.

“The tower and nearby doocot have been in need of repair work for some time, with improvements required to various walls.

“The focus is to enable safe access inside parts of the buildings, whilst also improving the interpretation and understanding of the buildings to help shine a light on their local and national significance.

“There are also aspirations to link the site with others in the area as part of a wider heritage network.

“It’s all about maximising the potential of the site and I’m sure this will be a great benefit to the local community.

“The likely presence of protected species and their habitats at the site means the work needs to be programmed in such a way that they are not disturbed.”

Phil Long OBE, The National Trust for Scotland’s chief executive, highlighted the historic significance of the building.

He said: “Preston Tower lies quietly now but has played a part in our national story for many centuries, torched as part of the Rough Wooing by the forces of Henry VIII, again by Oliver Cromwell in 1650, and sketched by Turner on one of several of his expeditions to Scotland in the early 19th century.

“And so it’s exciting that, through the work of this partnership, the tower is receiving new attention, conserved and cared for, and provided with information to help understanding of its remarkable story.

“I’m very grateful indeed to the Scottish Government, East Lothian Council, Preston Seton Gosford Area Partnership and local community and the National Lottery for their support in making this possible.”

The Preston Tower project is one of three planned heritage-led projects in Prestonpans, the others being major investment at Prestongrange Museum to build a new engine shed and the re-landscaping of the war memorial square.