A DECISION to turn down plans to convert a former leisure complex into a care home could prove expensive after developers demanded that East Lothian Council cover their appeal costs.

The council refused plans for The Quay in Musselburgh – which was previously home to a restaurant, gym and function suites – to be converted into a 40-bed nursing home, lodged on behalf of Simply Musselburgh Care Limited.

However, the decision has been described by their agents as unreasonable and they have accused elected councillors of being “unduly influenced” by a small number of local groups who they said were “claiming to represent the views of the wider community who in actual fact and in all probabilities were not so representing that wider community but rather the self-interests of a few”.

The company lodged an appeal against the council’s decision, which was made at a planning committee meeting in June, with the Scottish Government.

The decision, which was supported by all councillors on the committee except its convenor Councillor Norman Hampshire, went against the advice of the local authority’s own officials.

Last week, Derek Scott Planning, which is acting on behalf of the care company, added in a claim for the council to cover the full expenses of the appeal.

In the claim, councillors are accused of failing in their duty to determine the planning application in accordance with their own development plan.

The claim says the council failed to explain why it considered the harbour to be an unsafe location for supervised residents of a care home, as they alleged, but considered it safe for all other members of the general public.

And they accused the council of “an attempt to cover up compelling evidence”, after comments made by the council’s planning service manager over the competency/incompetency of reasons to refuse the plans were, it was said, omitted from minutes of the meeting.

The claim read: “We are very firmly of the opinion that the council has acted in an unreasonable manner in its consideration of our client’s application and, as a consequence of such unreasonable behaviour, our clients have had to lodge an appeal which should not, had the council acted reasonably, been required.”

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “The report from planning officers on this application is in the public domain.

“Members of the planning committee came to a decision on the application at their meeting on June 5.

“We are aware of the applicant’s appeal and claim. We are of course formally responding to this and await the outcome.”