CONTROVERSIAL housing plans which will see in the region of 450 homes built on the opposite side of a railway line from the rest of Longniddry have been given the green light.

Hundreds of new homes will be built in Longniddry, despite concerns it will split the community in two and also in terms of the impact on the village’s medical practice.

Councillors spent almost two hours discussing Redhouse Castle Ltd and Socially Conscious Capital’s plans for the village, with housing being built to the east of the B6363 Coal Road and south of the railway line.

One of the main topics of discussion was the impact the housing, which will include more than affordable 100 homes, would have on healthcare provision in the village.

Currently the village is served by Harbours Medical Practice, which is based in Cockenzie but operates a satellite service on Longniddry’s Forthview Road.

Councillors Lachlan Bruce, Stuart Currie and Fiona O’Donnell all questioned how the new development, which could get under way within the next year, would impact upon the service.

The NHS is consulted in terms of whether it feels any contribution will be required from a developer in terms of the expansion of surgeries.

On this occasion, no contribution is being made.

Mr Bruce and Mr Currie were joined by Dr Sue Kempson, Jeremy Findlay and Tom Trotter in calling for the matter to be deferred so discussions could take place with the NHS.

However, the chairman’s casting vote enabled the remaining five councillors to push on and make a decision on the scheme.

As well as housing, the site will be home to the conversion of existing buildings at Longniddry Farm, which will provide space for commercial uses such as cafe, nursery and offices.

The development will also see more than £6 million put towards various improvements, not just in the village but further afield.

The biggest chunk of money – £3,145,050 – will go to East Lothian Council to extend the village’s nursery and primary school, with a further £1,785,150 going to provide additional room at Preston Lodge High School, Prestonpans.

Almost £900,000 will be split between improving Longniddry Main Street and the Coal Road, with plans also to extend the car park at the village’s railway station.

Ward councillor Ms O’Donnell noted that the debate had been lengthy but felt it was merited given the scale of the development.

She said further discussions would take place between the local authority and NHS Lothian regarding the health facilities in the village.

She “understood the concerns” about the idea of Longniddry being split in two due to the development being on the other side of the railway line, but felt there were facilities being included within the development that would see people from north of the line visit, and facilities in the existing village to attract newcomers.

That was echoed by former Longniddry resident Provost John McMillan, who lived in the village for five years.

The former Douglas Crescent resident said that gelling the two communities together was about more than simply roads and footpaths. He added: “There is a community there: the church and things that went on there and the gala day. It was a community where integration was not just in terms of physical connections but it was a well-integrated and cohesive community.”

But ward councillor Mr Bruce moved for the scheme to be refused. He said: “I came to the decision to vote against the Longniddry South development due to my concerns about health provision in Longniddry.

“I couldn’t get satisfaction at the meeting that NHS Lothian’s response to the development consultation, where they said they believe there was no need for extra provision, was robust enough. I have constituents regularly telling me that they have long waits to get health appointments, something which surely will only get worse with 450 more houses in Longniddry.

“I felt constituents would rightly ask why I had voted for an application when I couldn’t in good conscience tell them whether the residents of that new development and existing residents would have adequate access to healthcare.”

When the proposals came to a second vote, six out of the 10 councillors in attendance voted to approve the plans.

Dominic Lawson, from Socially Conscious Capital, was thrilled to see planning permission given.

He told the Courier: “We are clearly delighted to have received consent for our planning application.

“In addition to the much-needed new housing there will be considerable tangible benefits for the existing residents of Longniddry.

“These include employment and business opportunities and new community facilities, which will be fully integrated with the existing village.

“With its close proximity to the railway station, Longniddry South will be one of the most sustainable developments in East Lothian, which was one of the key reasons the site was included in the council’s Proposed Local Development Plan.

“We would like to thank the hundreds of Longniddry residents who have taken part in the many consultation events since 2013 and who have provided valuable input to help shape these development proposals.

“We will continue to keep local residents informed and involved as the development is now built out.”

With the principle of development on the site now agreed, detailed planning applications further outlining what will be on the site are expected to come forward in the coming months.