Two applications to increase the provision of tourist accommodation in East Lothian were approved at a meeting of East Lothian Council’s planning committee today.

Bourne Leisure Ltd, operators of Seton Sands Holiday Village applied for permission to provide an additional 75 static caravan pitches on its existing site increasing its overall provision to 853 and to increase the number of touring sites from 40 to 50. Planning officers recommended approval of the application, which would not be an overdevelopment of the site or significantly alter its visual impact of the holiday village. Councillors heard that construction will be undertaken to the winter months to limit disruption to the site and community. The committee voted unanimously to approve the proposals.

The committee also considered an application to develop land in the countryside outside Pencaitland to create an eco-accommodation site encompassing a shop, café, five holiday cabins and one two-bedroom house. The committee heard that the applicants, Mr and Mrs McNeill, intend to run their business from the land and build a home that will allow them to provide a high quality service 24/7 to their café business and holiday guests.

Planning officers had recommended that the application be refused as there was no operational need for a house to support the business and the business case put forward did not demonstrate the viability of the enterprise. This meant that the house would be contrary to the council’s newly adopted Local Development Plan Policies for development in the countryside (DC01 and DC04). Officers were concerned that approval could lead to further applications for new houses in the countryside without justifiable need. The meeting heard that the business could be developed with the owner living either on-site in temporary accommodation or nearby in Pencaitland village, and, if the model had proven viable, permission might be granted for a dwelling. This approach has previously been used with other applications for combined property and commercial development that have come before the committee.

Councillors considered the recommendations and heard from the applicant, Mrs McNeill, and the couple’s agent. The couple considered that the house was integral to their proposal and indicated their acceptance to enter into a legal agreement tying the business to the property. Councillors voted to reject officers’ recommendations and approve the application subject to a legal agreement and conditions, including on the occupancy of the house, (three votes supporting officers’ recommendations; seven against). The legal agreement is required to be in place within six months of today’s decision in order for planning permission to be granted.

Published: Tuesday, 4th December 2018