A REMOTE mobile home, in which a woman and several dogs were found dead after a fire, had been refused planning permission five years earlier, it has emerged.

The devastating blaze at the caravan, which was sited at Thornfield, south of Torness Power Station, led to the discovery of resident Julie Melville’s body and sent shockwaves through the local community.

Now it has been revealed that the caravan should never even have been on the land.

Ms Melville, 48, was told that she needed planning permission for her home in 2008 and applied for it retrospectively, but it was five years before a decision to refuse it was issued by planners.

A further appeal was also denied but the council found it was unable to enforce the removal of the home because it had been on the field for more than four years.

Fire and police are continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze, which broke out in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, October 20.

Ms Melville lived on the site with a number of dogs, with all but one perishing in the fire. It is now being cared for by relatives.

Her funeral was held in St David’s RC Church, Dalkeith, yesterday (Thursday).

In August 2008, Ms Melville applied for permission to live in the mobile home on the field, stating that she planned to operate a small business on the site breeding lambs, cattle and rare goats, and needed to live there to care for the animals.

However, the planning officer assigned the case said, in a report recommending refusal in February 2009, that Ms Melville had a full-time job as a mechanic and the business was a “hobby interest”.

That report was not lodged online by East Lothian Council’s planners until March 14, 2013, when the decision to refuse planning permission was also issued.

In July of that year, the local authority’s Local Review Body threw out an appeal by Ms Melville.

Planners had argued that the mobile home was not in keeping with their countryside development policy and was “visually prominent, exposed and incongruous within its landscape”.

Despite the ruling and demands for it to be removed, it remained on the site until the fire last month.

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “The council can confirm that planning permission for the mobile home was refused on various grounds, including visual intrusion and a lack of demonstrable need for the siting of a mobile home on the site, contrary to relevant planning policies, and that decision was later upheld by our Local Review Body.

“However, given that it had been used as a home for more than four years, planning statute meant that the council was unable to take enforcement action for its removal.”