RESTORATION work on Preston Tower has been delayed until spring next year due to the complexity of the works and “challenges in the construction industry”.

The work, which has been taking place in three phases, was scheduled to be completed by December but has now been pushed back until the new year.

The tower was first constructed in the 15th century and extended upwards in the 17th century when a doocot was also added.

It is currently covered in scaffolding to facilitate conservation work on the structure’s walls, with access closed to the public during the restoration process.

The works are now due to be complete in the spring, with the gardens partially reopening this month to coincide with Doors Open Day, and the doocot later in autumn.

The tower consolidation work is expected to be finished by early next year; the final phase will see the installation of an external staircase at the tower.

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “Preston Tower is a historic scheduled monument which makes this project complex.

“Care has been taken at every stage to ensure that the works are sympathetic and sensitive to the structure.

“Traditional construction techniques and materials are required, which may be more time-consuming than new methods but are much more appropriate for a building of such historic significance.

“With the backing of the National Trust For Scotland and working with an experienced contractor and specialist design consultants, we have made good progress in spite of the challenges in the construction industry that are affecting projects worldwide.

“The project has been running in phases, with the gardens due to be handed back to the council in September, the doocot to be completed in autumn, and works to consolidate the tower due to complete early next year. The final phase, to install an external staircase, is due to be completed by spring 2023.”

DJ Johnston-Smith, chairman of Prestonpans Community Council, understood the issues facing the council as it strove to complete the projects and was happy to see money being dedicated to the local community.

He said: “After many, many years of no major investment in the town centre of Prestonpans, the local community council was thrilled shortly before the pandemic began to learn that a significant sum of Scottish Government town centre regeneration money was to be spent on our seriously dilapidated Civic Square and the dangerously deteriorating scheduled Preston Tower and doocot.

“Inevitably, Covid, supply and labour shortages caused by Brexit and other site-specific issues have led to major delays to both projects.

“So we were very pleased indeed to learn that Preston Tower Gardens will partially reopen later this month for Doors Open Days weekend and that the council and its contractors aspire to have the works in the Civic Square complete by the end of October, in plenty of time for Remembrance Sunday.

“We shall be monitoring closely progress on both projects in the coming weeks.”