New town centre for Blindwells

Thursday December 10th 2020

Blindwells


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A change to the way people shop has led developers of a new town to scrap plans for a large supermarket at its centre.

The first residents of the new town of Blindwells are expected to move in by September next year.

However, developers Hargreaves have revealed that the masterplan for the town, which will see an initial population in 1,600 new homes, has been revised to create a new shopping centre to fit demand.

Speaking during a virtual public consultation on the detailed plans for the town centre, Iain Slater from Hargreaves, said that while they had initially been steered by East Lothian Council planners towards a mini retail park and supermarket at he heart of the town, times had changed.

He said: “Retail has changed significantly. While it was once all about going to the supermarket for a big shop, now it is more about deliveries and just going out to buy what you want for that evening.

“East Lothian Council had guided us towards a mini retail park but it is not really sustainable, which is why we have gone back to the town centre.”

Mr Slater said that the developers had redrawn the town centre to create smaller shops with residential properties above them.

Drawings produced during the webinar showed the new town centre based around a body of water to be named The Princes Loch at the north of the site.

A market square and Mercat Cross appeared in artist’s impressions of the new high street, while boutique shops with four-storey-high buildings lined it, with ground floor shops and flats above.

Proposed on the new high street are also a health centre, gym, family pub and restaurant, and cafes.

And at the loch itself, there are plans for a potential cultural centre for the Battle of Prestonpans Trust, which has been in discussions with developers to mark the historic battle on the site.

Developers also confirmed that initial hopes for a railway station in Blindwells had been ruled out by Network Rail, although it might be revisited when the town expands.

East Lothian Council’s Local Development Plan includes the initial delivery of Blindwells with a town centre, housing and new primary school.

It also has a larger area of land to the east of the town – which sits between Prestonpans and Tranent – which has been dubbed Greater Blindwells for future expansion.

Mr Slater said that as well as a possible rail station in Greater Blindwells, there was also the possibility of a new secondary school being built but added that this was still “at a very early stage” in plans for the future.

Current education plans for children and young people moving into Blindwells will see primary-school children bussed to classes at neighbouring Cockenzie Primary School until completion of the new primary school, now due to be delivered on site for school session 2024/25.

Secondary-school pupils will travel to Preston Lodge High School in Prestonpans.

Concerns about the travel plans for school pupils, impact of the new town on the existing junctions on and off the A1, and environmental impact were all raised by members of the public during the virtual consultation.

Asked about the demographic planned for the new town, James Fraser from EMA Architects, which produced the masterplan, said the aim was to build a community.

He said: “It is about trying to create a community, so all types of people will be welcome, from first-time buyers to families and older people looking to downsize to a smaller home.”

The consultation remains open online until January 15 for comments at www.blindwellsconsultation.co.uk

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