East Lothian primary and secondary school pupils have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to help choose the name for the county's first ever new town.
Planning permission has been granted for thousands of new homes, a school, business space, shops, sports facilities and parks at the site of the former Blindwells open cast mine, between Tranent, Prestonpans and Longniddry.
School pupils have been asked to compile a shortlist of names – either chosen from a long list prepared by council officers based on how existing East Lothian towns got their names – or they can come up with their own suggestions.
The shortlist will then go out to public consultation and the name of the new town will be announced towards the end of the year.
Other names from the shortlist will be incorporated into the development – potentially as street names.
Council Leader Willie Innes, who was joined at the former Blindwells site by pupils from Preston Lodge High School to announce the process, said:
“This is a truly exciting opportunity for our young people to come up with a name for this town. We wanted all school pupils in East Lothian to be involved as they are the generation who will be most likely to be living and working in this new settlement. And we wanted to extend the opportunity to all of our schools as it’s not just those in the immediate vicinity who will benefit from a planned new town – it will benefit East Lothian as a whole. I am looking forward to seeing the shortlist that they come up with. There has been a lot of public interest in what the new town will be called so we also wanted to give every member of the public the chance to vote on this too so there will be a public consultation once our young people have drawn up the final shortlist. I am pleased that our entire community will get the chance to have their say.”
The approved East Lothian Local Development Plan also safeguarded land for a more significant potential expansion of the new settlement in due course. It is also one of seven sites considered to be strategically significant within the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. The council’s vision is to see land at Blindwells transformed into an exemplar community in which to live, work and play with mixed-tenure housing including affordable homes, first-class facilities and amenities, local employment opportunities, combined with a vibrant landscape. It presents opportunities for inward investment and job creation. There is expected to be significant improvements to local infrastructure, which includes providing more choices for walking, cycling and travelling by public transport and improvements to roads.
Richard Holland, Regional Director for Strategic Land and Planning for Taylor Wimpey in Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be involved from the start of such a pivotal and landmark development that will transform this area of East Lothian. The name that is finally chosen will form a new piece of local history, and we hope that as many young people as possible will embrace this opportunity to be part of the process.”
Hargreaves Land’s Development Director, Iain Slater, commented: “This is an exciting time for Hargreaves Land, the first stages of land preparation are nearing completion and Bellway have submitted a planning application for 140 new homes to East Lothian Council with an application from Cruden for 55 affordable units expected in the coming weeks. We are finally starting to see our aspirations for the site to create a strong and thriving new community coming together in this sought after location close to Edinburgh.”
The long list of names includes old Scots words, local landscape features, nearby waterways and the names of significant people or families relevant to the area – in line with how our existing towns got their names.
Both Hargreaves and Taylor Wimpey are key stakeholders of the greater Blindwells site, as set out in the Local Development Plan.