East Lothian Council’s Planning Committee met on Tuesday 7 November and considered two applications that had been called off the Scheme of Delegation list.

The first was for land south west of North Berwick High School at Grange Road, for change of use of agricultural land for the formation of two sports pitches and associated works, being an extension of the high school campus. The application was called off the Scheme of Delegation List by Councillors Findlay and Cassini due to the level of objections and local publicity.

To integrate the new pitches with the existing pitches and allow oversight of them, it was proposed to remove a 142 metre section of the hedgerow. Planting of mixed species hedges, hedgerow trees and wildflowers was proposed to replace this, along with an area of woodland 74 meters in length and six meters wide and consisting of mixed species trees and shrubs.

A total of 35 letters of objection and six representations neither objecting to nor supporting the application had been received, as well as three letters of support.

The current school roll at North Berwick High School is 1052 pupils but planning capacity for the school is set at 1200 to allow for fluctuations in pupil numbers over a 10-year period. Committee was advised that based on a pupil roll of 1050 there is a legislative requirement for North Berwick High School to have a minimum of 3.6 hectares of external space. Previous extensions to North Berwick High School building and North Berwick Law Nursery to meet the needs of the projected pupil rolls has led to a reduction in sports pitch provision at North Berwick High School. The two additional sports pitches proposed would result in meeting these statutory requirements up to a roll of 1300 pupils.

The Council’s Team Manager, Countryside advised that the existing site habitat provides limited biodiversity value with no evidence of protected species and that the existing section of hedge proposed for removal is not considered priority habitat. She was satisfied that the proposed planting to include hedgerow and a new woodland area would mitigate for the loss of the section of existing hedgerow and provide positive effects for biodiversity.

Following a debate, planning committee members voted six to five in favour of supporting the officers’ recommendation to grant permission.

The second application was for an extension to a shop to form additional floor space and one flat at 121 Salters Road, Wallyford. The new application included the formation of two parking spaces and an EV charger. It was called off the Scheme of Delegation List by Councillor McGinn due to concerns regarding pedestrian and traffic safety.

Previous similar applications had been approved but development had not been implemented so permission had lapsed.

Two letters of objection had been received in relation to the application with the main grounds of objection being a general lack of parking in the area and inconsiderate parking by motorists.

Following a debate, councillors were split on whether to reject the application altogether or to approve it with the reduction of parking spaces from two to one. However a casting vote by Convener Councillor Hampshire confirmed refusal of planning permission on the grounds that parking provision was inadequate and may create a pedestrian and road safety hazard.

The relevant application numbers are: North Berwick, 23/00911/P and Wallyford, 23/00769/P.

Published: Wednesday, 8th November 2023