Plans to turn Musselburgh, a small seaside town on the outskirts of Edinburgh, into the "St Andrews of East Lothian", boasting a 14-hectare higher education campus, have been unveiled.
The town's claim to fame until now has been its racecourse and, among locals, as home to one of the best Scottish-Italian ice-cream shops in the country.
But East Lothian planning authority is shortly expected to approve Queen Margaret University College's bid to relocate more than 4,000 staff and students from existing campuses in Edinburgh by 2007 to Musselburgh.
Strathclyde University's Fraser of Allander Institute estimates the new campus would be worth £32 million to the immediate neighbourhood in terms of jobs, and staff and student spending power.
QMUC's principal, Anthony Cohen, said the new site was just beside the main A1 route and six minutes by train from Edinburgh's central Waverley Station.
The current QMUC buildings were past their sell-by date and would cost too much to refurbish, he said. But the sale of the the two campuses is expected to meet the bulk of the cost of the new site.
An international competition for the design of the campus has attracted entries from Canada, the US, South Africa, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as from the UK. A decision on the architects is expected in January.
Student president Doug Watters said: "Students have been consulted throughout the masterplanning process, and we were keen that the new campus should provide a secure and sustainable working, living and learning environment - a place (where) you would want to spend time."
An academic village offering high-tech facilities with easy access to local amenities and the capital would be very attractive to students, he said.
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