A CENTRAL square could be created on Haddington High Street as part of ambitious plans to revamp the town centre.

Work has been ongoing throughout the summer to look at ways to improve the town centre.

The proposals could also see changes to the layout of parking spaces on High Street, although East Lothian Council stressed the design aimed to be “parking neutral”, with the current number of spaces remaining in place.

East Lothian Courier:

The proposals have been drawn up by Ironside Farrar, who have been working alongside a steering group made up of representatives from groups including the town’s community council and business association, as well as Haddington Community Development Trust (HCDT) and East Lothian Council.

About 400 individuals and businesses have attended a trio of workshops in recent months to look at potential designs for the town centre.

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One of the suggestions is for changes to the parking layout of the town centre, which has concerned some local businesses, as well as the creation of a square around the Mercat Cross.

The proposals focus on three key themes: heritage and history; accessibility and inclusivity; traffic and parking.

East Lothian Courier:

Changes proposed include creating more space around the Mercat Cross to celebrate its historic significance; investment in shopfronts and facades to conserve and enhance the town’s character; distinctive design features to enhance the town and better connections between the town centre and other town assets, such as paths.

Meanwhile, more outdoor space for seating, cafes and events was seen as an opportunity “to bring more life and activity into the heart of the town, increasing footfall and supporting economic activity”.

East Lothian Courier:

Although the number of parking spaces could remain the same, there could still be changes, with some on-street parking spaces relocated to accommodate improved loading and pedestrian provision. Similarly, additional “short-stay” parking spaces could be added.

Jan Wilson, chairwoman of the town’s community council, was among those to have attended some of the workshops.

A presentation will be given at the community council’s next meeting, which is open to the public, on Tuesday, December 12 at Haddington Town House.

East Lothian Courier:

Mrs Wilson said: “I think some softening of the High Street would be nice but what is important is we need to attract people down to the town centre.

“Whatever way we do that, it does not matter what way it is done, not everybody will be happy with it – but we have got to think what the future of Haddington is going to be.

“It is all geared towards working that way and making sure people want to come down because it is an attractive High Street and town centre.”

Mrs Wilson acknowledged there were concerns about changing to the layout of parking spaces in the area.

However, she stressed the full picture needed to be looked at to ensure what was being proposed was beneficial for the town.

Following the two presentations, project consultants will work with the project steering group as well as East Lothian Council to make any final revisions and recommendations.