A BID to build 16 houses on a site which had been set aside for a pub in a new estate has been thrown out on appeal.

Persimmon Homes told East Lothian Council it had been unsuccessful in finding anyone interested in taking on the site for a pub or restaurant as initially proposed in plans at its housing development at Gateside, Haddington.

But the developers’ application to use the site to build 16 houses instead was rejected by planning officials.

And when Persimmon appealed to the council’s local review body, it agreed with planning officers.

The review body heard last Thursday that the land involved had been set aside for employment use in the council’s local development plan.

And while the council’s Economic Development and Strategic Investment (EDSI) service accepted that marketing the land for a pub or restaurant had not been successful, it did not believe that that ruled out other types of employment use for the site.

Council officers also warned that allowing housing to be built on land set aside for employment use could set a precedent for other areas in the county.

Councillor st John McMillan, cabinet spokesperson for economic development, said that the site where housing was being built had been a major employer for the county in the past when it was a Mitsubishi factory.

He said: “For me it is pretty clearcut; the land is needed for economic development. It should be marketed as a pub or restaurant, or for some other type of job provision in that area.”

Councillor Norman Hampshire, chairman of the review body, said the decision to allow housing to be built on any of the former factory site had been difficult for the council.

He said: “We did try and protect some of the land for economic development and this site is part of that.

“In East Lothian we have a lot of new housing taking place, as well as having people coming to live here. We have to make sure there are some employment opportunities and that this is a place they can come for some recreation.

“I think at this stage we should not give up that option.”

The five members of the review body voted unanimously to support the decision to refuse planning permission.