By Jill Geoghegan
A FORMER coastguard station is to be transformed into a food servery and takeaway despite more than 80 objections.
The disused station in North Berwick, which dates back to 1857, is located in a historic site and many locals fear that the new venture may lead to customers littering or loitering in the grounds of the nearby 12th century St Andrews church.
Tom Brock, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre stated: “The takeaway site is very much at the gateway to the seabird centre and we are extremely concerned about the visual impact and litter problem which will inevitably result from a takeaway.
“In the event of rain or cold north sea winds at this very exposed location, the only shelter for the takeaway customers would be the old Kirk itself. After having refurbished the church the last thing I want to see is people sitting on 12th century grave slabs drinking coffee, eating chips and leaving litter there.”
Despite the outrage of protesters, following a lengthy debate councillors at a meeting of the East Lothian Council’s planning committee voted in favour of the development, with eleven voting for the plan and two voting against.
Local hotelier Stirling Stewart, proprietor of the Nether Abbey hotel and The Lobster Shack is behind the development of the iconic site. Mr Stewart is thrilled that the plans for his latest business have been given the green light and feels that the new food servery and takeaway will be very beneficial for the area.
“I’m delighted that the council has voted in favour of the plan. It shows that the councillors have seen the potential of the site. It’s just what the area needs, having seen the popularity of the Lobster shack which opened last summer, I’m sure that this new venture will be popular too.
Mr Stewart believes that the opening of the take away will encourage more people to visit and stay in the area. “I feel it will boost tourism, visitors are looking for something like this.
“I’m also going to invest in the property and it will create jobs in the locality.”
Councillor David Berry, who represents North Berwick, voted in favour of the plan stating that “The building is going to remain exactly as it is, with the exception of the interior. We are not losing anything from our heritage by permitting the development to take place.”