Tuesday’s 4-hour-long ELC Planning Committee meeting approved—among others—unusual temporary use for the old Ben Sayers factory in North Berwick. As applications go, this was as unconventional as any and the committee spent an hour considering it.
Even in a tourist town, there’s not much demand for a golf club factory these days. Any plans for redevelopment are years away, so a social enterprise called Uprising cut a deal with the owners and applied for an indoor activity hub for young people, with skate ramps, BMX, climbing wall, studios, soft play area, cafe and, generally, a place to hang.
The only houses nearby were horrified and united in raising a veritable flak of objections—most couched in safety terms but it was hard to hide the NIMBY. Those who bothered to find out discovered Uprising had already run in East Linton on a smaller scale. The locals there praised a popular magnet for young people with few other facilities.
Most unusual in planning, the letters of support swamped the letters of objection and at the meeting itself, Uprising made such a cogent case they secured unanimous approval. There is still a long journey of fundraising and fitting out to go and it is to be hoped that Heugh Road residents will be pleasantly surprised by their new neighbours. This will be a major facility for young people, an education of challenges and socialising unavailable to them at school that will be a draw from all over the county.
The result will not be the tomb-like silence of a derelict factory. But surely some noise from young people enjoying themselves is far better than having the metal-bashing din of a golf club die press ringing out across the road?