AS MANY as 145 new homes could be built on the site of a former hospital in Haddington.

Controversial proposals were revealed earlier this year to transform the former Herdmanflat Hospital and its grounds into homes for older people.

An application for planning permission in principle has now been submitted to East Lothian Council’s planning department following three years of surveys, design work and public consultation.

The development would be made up of between 140 and 145 homes, including the refurbishment of the remaining buildings.

The new-build housing proposed would be up to a maximum of three storeys in height.

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council, which is behind the plans, said: “The mix will be determined as we develop the detail, and this will be based on likely demand, but generally the more two beds the lower the number of units.

“The masterplan allows a phased approach to delivery, so each phase can be adjusted by the council as necessary to take account of the most pressing housing needs for older people, and those living with a disability or complex needs.”

East Lothian Courier: Plans for the refurbishment of the former Herdmanflat Hospital site are now with East Lothian CouncilPlans for the redevelopment of the former Herdmanflat Hospital site have been submitted to East Lothian Council’s planning department. This drawing shows Aberlady Road to the south of the site, with the existing buildings at Herdmanflat towards the top left of the site. New buildings are shown in the middle of the image and the existing buildings on neighbouring Lydgait on the far right. Among the planned additional features are an orchard and community garden; petanque pitches; and a woodland with ‘succession planting’

The decision to develop the site attracted criticism from a number of members of the public, with a petition set up in opposition to the development which “threatens to destroy this green oasis forever”.

The masterplan was amended to take on board many points raised during the consultation.

According to the council, the scheme will deliver “a cutting-edge, high-quality, adaptable and sustainable housing development”.

The developers claim that the proposals “respect the existing heritage, landscape character, green space and access arrangements of the site” while the council’s aim is “to create a distinctive neighbourhood with a strong sense of place and connection to the wider Haddington community and the town centre”.

The council spokesperson said the development would provide “much-needed housing for the 600-plus over-65s currently on the council’s housing list” and would also provide housing that supported families living with dementia and other complex needs.

They said: “Plans include the retention of valued woodland and woodland paths, which will provide green space for walkers and assist with wider health and wellbeing and mental health promotion.

“There will be natural play space for children, formal games and social spaces that promote healthier, more active living for people of all ages.

“There will be community growing areas that promote health and wellbeing benefits including physical activity and mental health, and can assist in reducing the cost of living.”

The proposals are also seeking to “retain trees and provide additional planting to promote an increase in biodiversity across the site” while looking to promote walking and cycling.

READ MOREBid to save 'green lung' at former Herdmanflat Hospital

The council purchased the site from NHS Lothian in 2020, with support from the Scottish Government.

The spokesperson confirmed “a maximum” of 36 trees were earmarked for removal for “a variety of reasons”, adding: “A total of 238 new trees will be planted plus an additional 485m2 of woodland restocking.

“Overall, we hope this demonstrates that earlier public concerns that 40-50 per cent of the woodland will be built on is unfounded.

“Woodland walks will be preserved and the additional planting at the southern boundary is a direct response to concerns raised by immediate neighbours of loss of privacy (this has also been addressed by pulling the buildings further back).”

Stuart Pe-Win, of Haddington and District Community Council, said he was trying to arrange a public meeting to gauge public feeling on the proposals.

But he added: “I feel maybe they should have waited until after the Christmas holidays if they were really interested in collaboration with the public and community groups.”

Members of the public will be able to give their view on the proposals via the council’s online planning portal.