PLANNING permission in principle is being sought for a revised proposal of about 250 new houses on land to the north of Whitecraig.

Wallace Land Investments has submitted a planning application to East Lothian Council following public consultation on the project, which is earmarked for two fields currently in agricultural and horse use.

The number of houses initially proposed was 200 but this has been increased by 50, with the total including affordable homes.

Musselburgh Conservation Society, which is opposing the plan, claimed it was “premature” as reporters working on behalf of Scottish Ministers were still examining the proposed Local Development Plan which earmarked the site for 200 houses.

The site encompasses the majority of the southern field adjacent to Whitecraig, extending between Cowpits Road and Carberry Road. It includes about half of the northern field which is next to Cowpits Road.

A planning statement from Edinburgh-based Geddes Consulting, acting for Wallace, stated that, given the shortfall in the five-year housing land supply, the additional 50 homes made a contribution to the council’s housing land supply.

Access would be from both Cowpits Road, which would be widened, and Whitecraig Road.

A new pedestrian and cycle route is planned through the site allowing a connection between the path along the disused railway to the east of Whitecraig and Cowpits Road.

According to the planning statement, a formal frontage including tree line and boundary wall would be created along Cowpits Road. Public open space including an equipped play area would be formed at the north of the site.

Development would take place over an eight-year period, starting in 2018, and potentially this could be six years if a second house builder could be accommodated on the site.

Wallace has agreed a financial contribution of £1,018,250 towards secondary education at Musselburgh Grammar School and is in discussions with the council over an extension of nine classrooms at Whitecraig Primary School which would mean a financial contribution of £2.4 million.

A spokesman for Wallace Land Investments said: “The proposal for Whitecraig North will help meet the identified requirement for much needed private and affordable homes, in line with the housing allocation made within the council’s emerging Local Development Plan.”

Barry Turner, spokesman for Musselburgh Conservation Society, said: “The planning application is premature in that the reporters have not yet reported on the Proposed Local Development Plan following their ongoing examination. The society objected on a number of grounds to the inclusion of this site as one for housing development and awaits a view from the reporters, as should the developers and the council.”

He said: “The Main Issues Report, though accepting it as a possible alternative, had not put the site forward as a preferred site. It stated that the site is exposed in landscape terms and would not represent as logical extension of Whitecraig as the preferred site known as Whitecraig South.

“The site was later identified by elected members as part replacement for Goshen Farm which they wished deleted. This, plus the fact that the council decided to add a 23 per cent generosity factor to the East Lothian housing requirement, meant that this site with its recognised flaws was then included for development in the PLDP.

“Surprisingly not mentioned in the MIR’s critique is the fact that development here cannot be integrated with the existing settlement of Whitecraig by virtue of the unbroken nature of existing development along the north side of the main road frontage.”

He added: “The society in its objection to the PLDP has argued that this land should remain free of development as part of a long term structural vision for Musselburgh. New residents here will look to Musselburgh for a variety of services, notably major shopping, and generated traffic will be channelled through Inveresk Village. Not only will this be harmful to the character of the Conservation Area but potentially damaging to the fragile nature of the many listed buildings abutting the road.

“When this traffic reaches Musselburgh it will face already problematic junctions with Inveresk Road, Newbigging and Musselburgh High Street and potentially feed more traffic into the congested and polluted High Street.”

Whitecraig Community Council is set to discuss the plan at its meeting on November 7.