SAINSBURY’S long-stalled bid to bring a supermarket to East Lothian appears dead after the site of its planned Haddington store was sold for nearly £3 million.

A lengthy battle between Sainsbury’s and rivals Tesco to trade at Haddington's Gateside, on the western edge of the town, came to an end in March 2013, with Sainsbury’s given planning permission for a store and petrol station there.

However, due to tough trading conditions, the project was put on hold and today (Monday) it was confirmed that the land had now been sold for "retail warehouse space".

Ediston Property Investment Company has acquired the site, off West Road, for £2.75 million, with national retailers rumoured to be interested in locating there.

Calum Bruce, director of investment at Ediston Properties Limited, the company’s investment manager, said: “We are always looking at different ways to create value for our shareholders and this development will allow us to do that.

“We have tracked this opportunity for some time and are confident that we can deliver an attractive income return for the company that is significantly above market returns for similar developed assets.”

The site, which is just off the A1, is currently allocated for retail and associated development in the Proposed Local Development Plan.

Planning permission for a supermarket and petrol filling station, secured by Sainsbury's, is in place but it is Ediston's intention to seek new planning consent to create retail warehouse units.

The Edinburgh-based company has already been eyeing up nearby Harperdean, between the A1 and the A199 to the east of Haddington's Aberlady Road, for a similar development.

A spokesman for the company said: “There is a general shortage of retail warehouse space in East Lothian, particularly in Haddington, which means there is pent-up demand from retailers who want to have representation in the town.

“The investment manager has a number of discussions ongoing with these retailers and is expecting to pre-lease the majority of the site, thereby reducing development risk to the company in the process.

“Once the development is completed, it is anticipated that it will provide a robust and attractive income return for the company, secured against national retailers.”