East Lothian Courier

‘Exciting’ plans for site

Community hub planned at long-vacant former Ideal Garage site

- By Cameron Ritchie critchie@eastlothia­ncourier.com

PLANS are being drawn up to develop a prominent site in the centre of Haddington. . . with a focus on creativity.

A new group – Marketgate Community Trust – is being formed in a bid to transform the site at the corner of Hardgate and Victoria Terrace.

The developmen­t, called Marketgate, aims to reinvent the former Ideal Garage site as “a purpose-built community-led centre”.

Fiona Lambert, one of the founding directors of MADE in East Lothian, which has occupied a section of the site since 2016, is among those involved in the proposals.

She said: “An exciting plan is progressin­g to purchase the site and reimagine these historic buildings and overgrown outdoor spaces as a thriving hub for community, creativity and sustainabi­lity.

“A steering group for the project has now been set up and they are looking for support and ideas from the local community throughout Haddington and East Lothian to help achieve this vision of a flexible, shared community space.”

The current buildings on the site were erected in 1923, with the workshop area constructe­d from a First World War aircraft hangar relocated from East Fortune Airfield.

The shop and flats formerly on the corner site were bombed in 1942 and the space was then used as a petrol station and garage until 2008.

The semi-derelict buildings are currently the base for MADE in East Lothian, a creative social enterprise.

However, the premises, which are currently privately owned, are in a considerab­le state of disrepair and a steering group has been formed to help reinvent the site as a purpose-built community-led centre with MADE’S ethos of “make, create and reuse”.

Among potential uses for Marketgate are studios and workshops for creatives, coworking spaces, a variety of retail spaces, a refurbishe­d

gallery and arts hub, and programmes to support local people to develop skills.

The vision also includes a space for events, meetings and performanc­es, a cafe/bistro and a community garden.

The whole project aims to create “a positive impact for people and the planet, with a focus on sustainabi­lity and community benefit, whilst providing a flexible, shared space for work, play and learning for all age groups”.

The steering group has already secured initial funding from the Architectu­ral Heritage Fund, Scottish Land Fund and East Lothian Council to explore the feasibilit­y of the whole project.

Local architect Kevin Mackenzie is providing architectu­re and design services, and has prepared initial proposals and visualisat­ions of how the site could look, which will be used for an outline planning applicatio­n.

Fiona added: “We’re now looking for founding directors to join our voluntary board to help develop the next stage of a sustainabl­e business plan and fundraisin­g strategy.

“Everyone with an interest is invited to join us, but for the board directors we particular­ly need people with experience in law, finance and property developmen­t, as well as people who have expertise in the arts, culture and creative industries, the built environmen­t and community engagement.

“They should also be living in Haddington.”

The Marketgate steering group is hosting a stall on Haddington High Street on Saturday and again next Saturday (February 10).

 ?? ?? An artist’s impression of how the former Ideal Garage site in Haddington could look under new proposals. Inset: How the site currently looks
An artist’s impression of how the former Ideal Garage site in Haddington could look under new proposals. Inset: How the site currently looks

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