COMMUNITY opposition is growing towards a development which could dramatically change North Berwick’s coastal views.

Early stage plans for land at Castleton Farm, east of the town, propose a 60-bed care home with up to 160 private/public accommodation with care units.

Angela Paterson, spokesperson for the newly formed Save North Berwick Views, told the Courier that the group did not accept the plan was “the only viable option”.

Ms Paterson said that those opposed to the development were now coming together to voice their concerns.

“Momentum is gathering – we have over 50 people actively engaged in the action group so far,” she said.

“We’ve had more than 1,000 hits on our website, which has been going for only two weeks, and we have a meeting mid-week to discuss the next steps.”

Members of the group have also written to East Lothian MSP Iain Gray to raise their fears about losing a treasured view of the Bass Rock.

Ms Paterson said: “This is not about residents’ views – this is about North Berwick views, about Scottish views, about setting a precedent that communities have a voice – or should have.”

Goldcrest Communities Ltd has highlighted land at Castleton Farm – east of Tantallon Caravan Park, north of the A198 and south of Glen Golf Club – for the plans.

Its proposal also includes a “community hub” which may feature leisure facilities, a cafe or restaurant, and recreational space. There is no requirement for schooling.

East Lothian MSP Iain Gray said that East Lothian Council had worked hard to get its blueprint for future land use, the Local Development Plan (LDP), adopted.

Castleton Farm has not been allocated as a potential site for housing in the plan but is instead defined as ‘countryside around towns’ as part of a policy to help protect the landscape. It is also within the Tantallon Coast Special Landscape Area.

Mr Gray added: “While as MSP I have no direct locus for local planning issues, now that the LDP is in place I do believe that it should generally govern decisions on future planning and development.

"Where applications are proposed in areas outwith the LDP, the public should be encouraged to express their views on the proposals. They have the first opportunity to do this with these proposals by attending the developer’s public exhibition.”

Guy Bailey, director for developer Goldcrest Communities Ltd, said a full Environmental Impact Assessment would be required, within which a detailed Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment would be included.

“The opportunities to formally comment on proposals will come through the pre-application consultation process followed by the submission of a planning application to East Lothian Council,” he said.

He added that there were plans to work within the existing land form and incorporate the views of the Bass Rock and North Berwick Harbour.

A North Berwick Community Council spokeswoman said they had started preliminary discussions and would make a response once a planning application is available.

She added: “In particular we would expect it to show how it addresses the significant work already undertaken across the community in addressing specific needs, such as a community space, housing and healthcare needs.”

The planning application is expected to be submitted in the early part of 2019. A public exhibition is held at the town’s community centre next Thursday (November 8), 2-8pm.

Castleton Farm owner Stuart McNicol declined to comment.