A PLANNING application for an exterior access stair to Preston Tower has been lodged with East Lothian Council.

If approved, the staircase would allow access to the building for the first time in half a century, while also allowing visitors to explore the first floor of the building, which “has not been possible for centuries”.

Preston Tower is a scheduled monument that was first constructed in the 15th century, extending upwards in the 17th century when a doocot was added.

The tower has been subject to a £1.1m restoration project across three phases, which has seen external repairs to the building and doocot and the installation of new interpretation boards with artist’s impressions of how the tower looked at different periods in its history.

The final phase would see the installation of the new staircase, returning the tower to a state where visitors can enjoy access once more.

READ MORE: Scaffolding removed as tower renovation enters last phase

The project was originally due to be completed in December last year but was pushed back to spring due to “challenges in the construction industry”.

Groves-Raines Architects Studios submitted the application, which detailed the proposals for the staircase in full.

The design statement outlines that: “The aim of the project is to provide better access to the tower in general, for both visitors and for staff providing maintenance.

“It is the ambition of the client to improve the experience for current users, to help increase awareness of the significance of the site and to encourage more people to visit.”

A condition assessment was conducted on the tower prior to the application to determine what areas of the building the staircase could access.

Following the study, it was decided that the proposed staircase would access the first floor of the structure while keeping the upper floors closed off due to posing a “hazard to building users”.

The staircase would be located on the south and east elevations of the building, mirroring historical precedent which saw a staircase or elevated walkway in the same place as far back as 1450.

The design of the stair is split between three landings, at the floor, midway point and first-floor level offering views over the garden, doocot and surrounding area.

It has also been designed in a way that allows maintenance access for the upper levels on the tower.

The materials used on the staircase and its fixings are designed to line up with the historical continuity of the building, using hardwood timber (European oak) and galvanised steel. The base of the stair will also incorporate sandstone, identical to that used to restore other parts of the structure.

A decision deadline has been set for August 13.