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'Burying Bad News' ... Lidl at work on Christmas Day

What were you doing on Christmas Day?

This one seems to 'elevate' the burial of bad news to new depths! On Christmas Day 2009, Lidl's latest Application was formally publicised in the local press: Notice of a formal application for Planning Consent in Principle to build 48 not 56 new flats on the site of the Auld Fowler's HQ/ Mercat House. The significance of any number below 50 is that a Consultation is not mandatory! There are apparently 28 days from Christmas Day to comment with most of us bemused in the snow for at least half the time.

The Application can be found on the internet HERE

Now none of the 800+ members of the community in Prestonpans who signed up for the Community-Right-to-Buy Campaign in 2008/ 2009 for one moment expect East Lothian Council to let it happen like that, but to seek to ensure it doesn't, a formal Objection has been lodged on behalf of all the parties involved last time around!

Three Harbours Re-generation Group - West Pans to Port Seton

Many but not all will know that under the chairmanship of Iain Gray, MSP, a group has been working since last autumn involving both Prestonpans and Cockenzie & Port Seton Community Councils, the two Arts Festivals, the Battle Trust and the Community-Right-to-Buy organisation [PAFS 2006] to explore a 'whole coastline' plan emerges, not piecemeal decisions.

This Objection lodged reads as follows:

"Members of the Council will be aware that this is the former site of the Auld Fowler's HQ which more than 10% of the community sought to preserve by Listing and Community Right to Buy in 2007/2008/ 2009.

When demolition took place all involved in the campaign joined with the Community Council and the MSP, Iain Gray, to seek to ensure that what ''happened next' at the site, the Eastern Gateway to a town twinned with majestic Barga in Tuscany, should honour the town. Moreover, the community at large wished to have its say on what that might be. Several proposals have been forthcoming.

Since end 2009 a local community group involving all those who led the camapign to save the Auld Fowler's HQ / Mercat House and the 'EH32 9' Community Right to Buy organisation now legally recognised by Scottish Ministers [PAF 2006 Limited] have established a Three Harbours Re-generation Group under the chairmanship of Iain Gray MSP and including both Community Councils, the Three Harbours and Prestoungrange Arts Festivals and the 1745 Battle Trust. Its purpose is to consult across the community and explore how the entire coastline from West Pans to Port Seton can be viewed as a 'whole' and plans drawn up for its coherent, coordinated regeneration over the coming years.

A piecemeal plan at the Eastern Gateway to Prestonpans without consideration of the gestalt of the whole coastline, is in ... the opinion of the Arts Festival and 1745 Battle Trust, and the others engaged in the Group, undesireable.

As such, we object to Planning Permission being given in Principle as requested.

We wish Lidl to be formally asked by the Leader of ELC to join together with those in the Three Harbours Re-generation Group to explore how that particular piece of land might play a significant role in an overall plan for the entire coastline.

In supporting such a vision, Iain Gray MSP is following in the footsteps of Haddingtonshire MP [later Viscount] Haldane at the end of the 19th century on the occasion of the opening of the town's new Town Hall - when he supported the claim that our coastline could and should become 'the Brighton of Scotland'.

Now is a strategic moment which presents an opportunity for that dream to begin to come true, and we would want Lidl to share with the community as it seeks to make progress to that goal.

Again, we oppose the Application for Permission in Principle."

click to enlarge the press cutting

Published Date: January 15th 2010

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