Revised national marine centre plans submitted for planning

© Simpson & Brown Architects
© Simpson & Brown Architects

Amended plans have been submitted for the proposed national marine centre in North Berwick.

The attraction for the Scottish Seabird Centre conservation and education charity aims to provide a hub for marine education, highlighting the international importance of Scotland’s marine life, as well as the threats they face, and presenting cutting-edge research taking place across the country.

With an estimated project investment of £6.2 million, the plans include a new education space to accommodate school and community groups; new outreach and online learning programmes; year-round interactive and changing exhibitions and activities to reduce seasonality; as well as new volunteering, work experience and internship programmes.

The plans for the centre have been updated following consultation which has been undertaken since March 2017. The designs have evolved and taken on a range of iterations to accommodate feedback from the community, staff and volunteers, supporters as well as East Lothian Council officers.

New architectural drawings show the height of the planned observatory reduced by 1.6 metres, as well as alterations to the design of the marine centre’s roof and changes to the brickwork used so it is more in keeping with its surroundings.

© Simpson & Brown Architects
© Simpson & Brown Architects

Andy Davey, partner at Simpson & Brown - the architects who designed the existing Seabird Centre building, said: “We have worked very hard to design a sensitive scheme on an important and challenging site, responding to the education and conservation objectives of the charity.

“The scheme will be able to accommodate the new education programmes and activities being developed in partnership with conservation and research organisations. The updated plans fit with the mix of buildings within the Conservation Area, minimise impact on the harbour and improve the public realm space.

“A Heritage Impact Assessment has been undertaken, following guidelines set out by Historic Environment Scotland. We strongly believe that this proposal will enhance the built landscape of the area in a similar way to the construction of the original Seabird Centre seventeen years ago.”

New analysis of the economic impact of the marine centre by the independent economic research consultancy EKOS reinforces that the centre will bring considerable benefits to East Lothian and Scotland.

The EKOS report estimates that the new centre will generate output at the East Lothian level of £2.38m per annum and support employment of 54 FTEs (full time equivalents). It will create a net additional increase of £1.18m per annum in output and employment of 24 FTEs on top of the existing beneficial impacts of the Scottish Seabird Centre.

At a national level, it will generate output at just over £1m per annum and support 23 FTE jobs.

Tom Brock OBE, CEO of the Scottish Seabird Centre, added: “The aim of the national marine centre is to build on the work undertaken by the Seabird Centre team by diversifying to incorporate the wider marine environment and wildlife above and below the waves, including seabirds.

“The economic impact at regional and national levels is significant and that coupled with our charitable objective to encourage people to protect and conserve the marine environment and wildlife for future generations reinforces the importance of this project.”

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