East Lothian Council rejects national marine centre proposals

© Simpson & Brown Architects
© Simpson & Brown Architects

Plans to transform the Scottish Seabird Centre’s existing premises into a new national marine centre have been rejected by East Lothian Council on the grounds that the project would have a detrimental impact on the local area.

The £6.2 million scheme would have expanded the existing site in North Berwick to provide a hub for marine education and included a new visitor centre for school groups and an observatory enabling a 360-degree view of the landscape.

Designs by Simpson & Brown Architects were previously revised to accommodate feedback from the community, staff and volunteers, supporters as well as council officers.

The height of the planned observatory was reduced by 1.6 metres, while alterations were made to the design of the marine centre’s roof and the brickwork used was also changed so it is more in keeping with its surroundings.

© Simpson & Brown Architects
© Simpson & Brown Architects

However the £5.5 million plan was rejected by councillors this week due to adverse visual impacts on the historic settings of North Berwick.

Council papers said 353 people had raised objections to the new centre, while 215 had said they were in support of it.

A report to the planning committee said: “The economic benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the significant detrimental visual impact that the proposed development would have on the character of the North Berwick conservation area.”

Scottish Seabird Centre chief executive, Tom Brock, said: “It has taken many years to get to this stage and to receive a refusal from the planning committee is very disappointing.

“However, we have been greatly encouraged by the widespread support for the concept of a national marine centre that aims to inform and inspire people about Scotland’s amazing marine wildlife and highlights the need to look after it for future generations.

“We will take on board recommendations and we are reviewing plans to identify the best way forward.”

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