OPPONENTS have branded a revised plan to build houses on greenbelt land on the edge of Musselburgh “a blatant attempt to get a foot in the door” and further develop the controversial site in future.

Ashfield Commercial Properties and BDW Trading Ltd have lodged a planning application for 300 homes at Goshen Farm, east of the town, 900 fewer properties than first proposed there in 2010.

The scheme has been described as a “significantly reduced development” after previously abandoned plans had involved about 1,200 homes.

But Caitlynn Neil, a spokesperson for Hands Off Goshen Greenbelt (HOGG), said: “This time it is for a reduced scheme of 300 houses which just happens to be be very similar to phase one of the original plan for 1,200 houses. This is a blatant attempt to get their foot in the door so that they can go forward with further phases in the future and fully develop the whole scheme as originally planned.”

She added: “Nothing has changed with HOGG’s original objections to the development and all the issues raised in the past still stand. In fact, most of the concerns raised previously have worsened due to the massive amount of building already under way in the immediate vicinity of Goshen Farm.

“No amount of theoretical data presented in their submitted reports will convince the 1,800-plus people, who petitioned against the development in the first place, that anything has changed for the better as they can see with their own eyes that things have and will continue to deteriorate.”

She claimed: “The negative impact on the environment overall with regards to transportation, flooding, air quality, wildlife, loss of Green Belt, loss of prime arable land, of this proposed development cannot be allowed to happen and HOGG believes that it is about time that the planners reject this application outright, along with any future attempts to develop Goshen Farm, once and for all and leave this last remaining site free of housing for the foreseeable future.”

Councillor Stuart Currie, a member for Musselburgh and leader of the SNP group on the council, also remains opposed to any housing at Goshen.

As a member of the planning committee, he decided to speak out which means he will be precluded from voting on the matter should it come before the planning committee.

He said: “I have not met anyone in the community in favour of any development on that site.”

He feared that the application for 300 houses could set a precedent for further building at Goshen in the future.

A spokesperson for the applicants said: “We are delighted to have submitted this application on behalf of our joint clients Ashfield and David Wilson Homes. This proposal is substantially different from the previous application in terms of scale and impact, and will help to address the immediate housing land shortfall in East Lothian.”

The planning application follows a public consultation event earlier this year organised at Musselburgh Racecourse by Turley - planning consultants acting for Ashfield and housebuilder David Wilson Homes East Scotland, part of BDW Trading Ltd.

A planning statement by Turley has outlined a maximum of 300 new homes - 25 per cent affordable - on a 15.5 hectare site. There would be two, three, four and five bedroom detached and semi-detached houses, generally two storeys in height. Two bedroom flats, a maximum of three storeys, would be located centrally along the Haddington Road boundary.

The proposed development would be served by two points of vehicular access from Haddington Road - one to the north-west corner of the site, which is intended to be a priority junction, and one to the south west corner of the site, a traffic-signal controlled junction.

Commercial space of 10,000 sq ft is proposed to the south west corner of the site, adjacent to Haddington Road.

The planning statement added: “Whilst an end user has not formally been identified, it is considered that the commercial space can provide local services and shopping facilities within walking distance of both proposed and existing residential areas. This could take the form of a number of small commercial units or one large unit, depending on assessed demand and market dynamics.”

The applicants are willing to enter into a legal agreement with the council to provide developer contributions towards education, transport, affordable housing and public art.

The development is expected to start on site within 12 months of approval of planning consent, with the total construction period being between three and five years in duration. Completion of the houses will occur in phases with them becoming available at a rate of approximately 95 per year.

Ashfield had wanted to build on the larger area after it was initially identified by East Lothian Council as a preferred site for housing.

In November 2015, however, the council dropped Goshen Farm land from its draft Local Development Plan after more than 1,800 people signed a petition opposing the planned development.

Despite the decision, Ashfield appealed to the Scottish Government, claiming the council took too long to come to its decision and had failed to meet its statutory duty.

In September last year, a Scottish Reporter scheduled a four-day hearing into the company’s appeal, but two days into it, Ashfield suddenly withdrew.

The following month, archaeological trenching was carried out which confirmed that there was no evidence of the English camp within the larger site boundary that is included in the Battle of Pinkie Inventory Battleground.