Plans to regenerate the historic Prestongrange site have received a boost with confirmation of a £685,000 award from the Scottish Government.
East Lothian Council has secured the funding from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund to support development of a heritage park within the former Prestongrange Colliery and Brickworks between Prestonpans and Musselburgh.
The project will deliver a new, accessible carbon neutral community hub as well as commercial and indoor community education space primarily within the derelict pit-head baths and outdoors in the surrounding parkland.
The vision for the site includes a multi-purpose activity room, accommodation for local groups, stores, accessible toilets and showers. It will also provide development space in support of new revenue generation, education, and employment uses, as well as improving access to a nationally important landscape, green network and heritage site.
The council has already committed £1.5 million of capital funding towards the project. Confirmation of support from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund will enable the project team to press ahead with delivery of what is expected to be a three-year design and build project. A planning application will be submitted in due course.
Welcoming announcement of the funding award, Councillor Jim Goodfellow, Cabinet Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing, said:
“Prestongrange is an important site which has been at the forefront of promoting East Lothian’s rich industrial heritage for many years. Regenerating and breathing fresh life into the Prestongrange is a local priority project.
“Now operated by East Lothian Council’s Museums Service with the support of community volunteers, the site is the focus of local efforts to use natural, built, and cultural heritage to deliver health, wellbeing, employment, and educational outcomes. This project will enable us, working with the community, to maintain and build on this in the years ahead.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic likely to have adversely impacted on inequalities issues, the regeneration of Prestongrange is a massively exciting opportunity for East Lothian.
“It will support existing and new activities and allow communities, supported by the council, to explore new ways of working together to deliver local outcome improvements.”
Ruth Davie, Chair of Preston Seton Gosford Area Partnership, said:
“The PSG Area Plan specifically sought to capitalise on the area’s rich cultural and industrial heritage to increase visitors and increase employability skills.
“Prestongrange is a crucial site for the area, its heritage and community identity. This investment will not only preserve and improve access to the site, it will also provide a new community resource, learning and employment opportunities, and ultimately attract new visitors which is welcome news for the wider community.
The project aims to:
- Increase access to the benefits of volunteering and social interaction/networking and improve engagement opportunities, learning and development in a flexible setting
- Increase footfall through widening the appeal of, access to, and condition of a nationally important open-air parkland site where physical distancing is straight forward and feels natural
- Attract new audiences via improved facilities that increase income from events and enterprise to provide sustainable revenue in support of community activities
- Provide education and training opportunities, especially practical access to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects for learners of all ages and abilities in an adaptable carbon neutral setting
- Provide opportunity for local employment in tourism, hospitality, museum and cultural services, and building conservation and repair including traditional trades
- Support a broad community-driven programme of events and activities to appeal to all ages and abilities, creating community enterprise opportunities, increased cultural activity, and access to nature, landscapes, and the historic environment.
Working with the Preston Seton Gosford Area Partnership, the National Lottery funded Great Place Partnership, and surrounding communities and local interest groups, East Lothian Council (in 2018) supported a visioning exercise and community conversation that identified actions and opportunities to extend community involvement and management to develop assets on the Prestongrange site to deliver significant regeneration benefit. This highlighted that “few authentic heritage sites in Scotland are capable of offering this combination of outside space, heritage, and location, supported by a loyal, distinctive visitor profile - and with large untapped markets on the doorstep. With vision and investment, Prestongrange has the potential to be ground-breaking in terms of delivering a programme that helps build strength, health and wellbeing in local communities while also preserving a heritage site of national significance”.
There are currently around 7000 visitors a year to the site during its seasonal opening hours. Analysis of the market and location suggests that there is potential for this to grow significantly with investment in the site (public facilities, education and skills development, tourist information, business and employment space) and programmes.