PLANS are being drawn up to develop a prominent site in the centre of Haddington... with a focus on creativity.

A new group – Marketgate Community Trust – is being formed in a bid to transform the site at the corner of Hardgate and Victoria Terrace.

The development, called Marketgate, aims to reinvent the former Ideal Garage site as “a purpose-built community-led centre”.

East Lothian Courier: Plans for a new car wash in the centre of Haddington have been turned downHow the site currently looks

Fiona Lambert, one of the founding directors of MADE in East Lothian, which has occupied a section of the site since 2016, is among those involved in the proposals.

She said: “An exciting plan is progressing to purchase the site and reimagine these historic buildings and overgrown outdoor spaces as a thriving hub for community, creativity and sustainability.

“A steering group for the project has now been set up and they are looking for support and ideas from the local community throughout Haddington and East Lothian to help achieve this vision of a flexible, shared community space.”

The current buildings on the site were erected in 1923, with the workshop area constructed from a First World War aircraft hangar relocated from East Fortune Airfield.

The shop and flats formerly on the corner site were bombed in 1942 and the space was then used as a petrol station and garage until 2008.

The semi-derelict buildings are currently the base for MADE in East Lothian, a creative social enterprise.

However, the premises, which are currently privately owned, are in a considerable state of disrepair and a steering group has been formed to help reinvent the site as a purpose-built community-led centre with MADE’s ethos of “make, create and reuse”.

Among potential uses for Marketgate are studios and workshops for creatives, co-working spaces, a variety of retail spaces, a refurbished gallery and arts hub, and programmes to support local people to develop skills.

The vision also includes a space for events, meetings and performances, a cafe/bistro and a community garden.

Invited to join

The whole project aims to create “a positive impact for people and the planet, with a focus on sustainability and community benefit, whilst providing a flexible, shared space for work, play and learning for all age groups”.

The steering group has already secured initial funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund, Scottish Land Fund and East Lothian Council to explore the feasibility of the whole project.

Local architect Kevin MacKenzie is providing architecture and design services, and has prepared initial proposals and visualisations of how the site could look, which will be used for an outline planning application.

Fiona added: “We’re now looking for founding directors to join our voluntary board to help develop the next stage of a sustainable business plan and fundraising strategy.

“Everyone with an interest is invited to join us, but for the board directors we particularly need people with experience in law, finance and property development, as well as people who have expertise in the arts, culture and creative industries, the built environment and community engagement.

“They should also be living in Haddington.”

The Marketgate steering group is hosting a stall on Haddington High Street on Saturday and again next Saturday (February 10).