PLANS to run a summer restaurant out of a converted shipping container, which would be sited on North Berwick’s iconic West Bay beachfront, have been rejected by East Lothian Council’s planning committee.

North Berwick businessman Stirling Stewart had proposed to install the container on a site at The Green during the summer months, offering people the chance to dine inside a glass-fronted restaurant and on decking outside.

Mr Stewart, who runs the Nether Abbey Hotel and has established the town’s successful Lobster Shack and Rocketeer restaurants, said he had been inspired to come up with the concept by his own childhood memories of the area.

It was described by Councillor John McMillan, cabinet spokesperson for economic development and tourism, and newly-elected Provost of East Lothian, as “funky, modern and innovative”.

A report to councillors, by council officials, recommended that the plans – which received 157 objections and 26 letters of support – be rejected.

Officials said the proposed building would be prominent and intrusive, take away land which made a significant contribution to the amenity and landscape of the area, and would set an “undesirable precedent for similar types of development along this part of the coastline of North Berwick and other parts of the coastline of East Lothian”.

At a planning meeting on Tuesday in Haddington Town House, Mr Stewart told the committee that the town’s reputation as a place to go for food and drink was a vital part of its economy.

He said: “East Lothian, and North Berwick in particular, is involved in a battle for domestic tourists’ pounds and minutes and it is a very competitive market that North Berwick does well in, in no small way because of the food and refreshments on offer.”

He pointed to the success of his seasonal eateries the Lobster Shack and Rocketeer in the town as examples of his experience of introducing new establishments in challenging conditions.

Mr McMillan supported the application, saying that officials had “highlighted everything that could go wrong” but there were enough safeguards available to protect the environment.

He said: “We have to look at a balance between economic, environmental and community values. It is through North Berwick that we can claim to be the leading food and drink location and here is something new.”

However, Councillor Stuart Currie said he was concerned about the precedent approving the application would set. He said: “I believe this is the right plan but just in the wrong location.”

Councillor Brian Small added: “It really concerns me the precedent that would be set.”

The committee voted by seven to three to reject the application.

Following the meeting Mr Stewart told the Courier: “I had a fair hearing. and a thorough examination was made of the application and I will take all the comments on board and consider the most appropriate action.”