PLANS to upgrade the boating pond at Musselburgh’s Levenhall Links have taken a step forward with the appointment of consultants to carry out a feasibility study.

A public consultation exercise will be carried out as part of the project, which has been commissioned by East Lothian Council and Musselburgh Area Partnership at a cost of £10,000.

Stuart Baxter, area partnership manager, said the tender had been awarded for consultants Ironside Farrar Ltd to start work early this year. He said a public consultation exercise would be held involving boating pond users, community groups, business representatives and other stakeholders.

“We would welcome the views of anyone with an interest in the site,” he said.

Mr Baxter previously said that the pond liner was generally regarded as being at the end of its design life and was currently too shallow. There were, he added, health and safety issues associated with weed growth.

The study will look at the existing facility and provide recommendations for its future design and improvements.

There will be a particular focus on offering a safe and secure environment for users to enjoy their sport and leisure activities while offering the wider community and visitors “an interesting, exciting and educational space to explore”.

There will also be an emphasis on the site’s abundance of nature, in particular bird life, as it is already famed as one of Scotland’s premier bird-watching locations.

An action plan will be drawn up with proposals, costs, possible sources of funding and projected economic benefits.

Beyond Boundaries East Lothian, which provides outdoor activities for people with disabilities and mental health issues, is one of the organisations which uses the pond. Other groups include: local schools through East Lothian Council’s Outdoor Learning Service; the outdoor activity group Venturing Out; Loretto School; East Lothian Canoe Club; North Berwick and Edinburgh Kayak Clubs; and Levenhall Radio Yacht Club.

Antony Stone, chairman of Musselburgh Lagoons Boating Pond Improvement Group, said: “We believe that this site offers a fantastic opportunity for a broad range of leisure activities which will be a great asset to the wider community of Musselburgh. The proposed developments will enhance the experience of thousands of children and adults who visit each year.

“We look forward to further discussion with East Lothian Council once the consultation is complete.”

Steven Nelson, manager and activities coordinator with Beyond Boundaries, said: “Our members would greatly benefit from any development of this site, particularly with regards to good access roads, adequate changing and toilet facilities and easier access onto the water with a static hoist.”

Jason Rose, chairman of Friends of Levenhall Links, said: “We sympathise with the pond users who don’t have decent changing facilities or toilets but are wary of any changes that would significantly increase footfall at the lagoons as we cannot risk too much disturbance for what we hope will become a Local Nature Reserve.”