A PUBLIC wishlist for the future use of Musselburgh’s iconic Old Town Hall and Tolbooth is being put forward by the community.

So far, about 80 questionnaires have been completed as the public have their say on how the High Street building – which has played a major role in the life of the town over many years, including as a court, jail and police station – should serve Musselburgh in years to come.

Everything from equipping the main hall as a music venue for small concerts and events to including a restaurant, arts and cultural space, open-air eatery, expanded museum, and opening up the jails and clock tower as a tourist attraction have been mooted.

Some were keen to see a children’s play area featured, as well as meeting rooms, a youth cafe, cinema club, exhibitions, craft training venue and garden area. Another suggestion was the installation of cameras pointing north, south, east and west with television screens in the building, providing live footage of Musselburgh.

Around 175 people attended an open day on Saturday as part of the public consultation to help shape the £2.5 to £3 million project which is being led by the Musselburgh Museum and Heritage Group, and Musselburgh Area Partnership.

Barry Turner, a trustee of the museum and heritage group, said: “The open day was a great success. We had 175 people visiting the exhibition in Musselburgh Museum and they went on to look round the Old Town Hall complex getting into parts which are not normally accessible. Some ventured up the ladder into the clock tower. Many told us how surprised they were with what’s inside the complex of buildings and how much open land there is at the rear.”

He explained: “In the questionnaires and on the suggestions board we had a lot of feedback about the options and possible uses but will not be analysing this until after the consultation process comes to an end on Monday. The exhibition has now moved to the Brunton Hall where it will remain until Monday morning. Questionnaires can be filled in there and people can also respond online, by email or in writing. Once the consultation is over the hard work starts, putting some firm proposals together, attracting possible users, getting the necessary consents and making bids for the funding that will turn aspiration into reality.”

The museum and heritage group along with the area partnership, which allocates funding for the town from East Lothian Council, have been working with specialist architect Richard Shorter on the project.

Two options are being considered: one which has an entrance from the High Street frontage through a pend under the Tolbooth; and another which has the entrance from the open area in front of the building, beside the open stairway.

The building has been described by architect Paul Lambie, who is also a museum and heritage group trustee, as “an iconic listed building” which dates from the late 1400s. The building has been little used since civic functions moved to the Brunton Hall.

The main issue in bringing Old Town Hall back into use is the lack of disabled access and so, with the help of Common Good funding, the trust and area partnership set about investigating how this might be provided in a general scheme of refurbishment.

It is likely that some kind of trust will have to be set up to manage the building long-term, though its ownership is likely to remain with Musselburgh Common Good Fund.

Stuart Baxter, manager of the Musselburgh Area Partnership, said: “I would encourage people to get involved and to complete a questionnaire. While all will be worth considering many of the suggestions may be impracticable or not consistent with the heritage of this building.”

Mr Turner added: “Thanks must go to the Musselburgh Museum for opening up the museum premises especially for this event and to the museum volunteers for taking people around the Old Town Hall, and ensuring their safety. Thanks also to the Musselburgh Area Partnership for providing the funding for publicity and printing.”

People can find out about the proposals and give views online at eastlothian.gov.uk/musselburghap

To give views in writing or by e-mail, write to Musselburgh Area Partnership, John Muir House, Brewery Park, Haddington, EH41 3HA, for the attention of Shirley Gillie; or email Musselburgh-ap@eastlothian.gov.uk, under the subject ‘Old Town Hall project.’