A BID to build more than 100 homes on land dubbed a ‘field of dreams’ for employment has been rejected by the Scottish Government.

Builders Barratt wanted to build 116  houses and 15 business units on the 11-acre site at Kingslaw, on Tranent’s eastern edge, despite the land being earmarked solely for economic development.

Developers insisted that the only way to bring businesses onto the site was by generating funds from the sale of the new homes.

They argued that making the site suitable for development would cost £1.5million and it was not viable without housing.

However, East Lothian Council rejected their plans at a meeting in August when officers insisted the site should be retained for employment use.

Councillor John McMillan, economic spokesperson, referenced the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams when he told colleagues: “If we build it, they will come.”

Developers appealed to the Scottish Government to overturn their decision, insisting the local authority had failed to acknowledge the evidence they had provided which, they said, demonstrated the need for enabling residential development on the land.

However, the Scottish Government Reporter appointed to investigate the appeal has now rejected their argument, siding with the council.

He said that the Local Development Plan for East Lothian had set aside the land at Kingslaw for economic development and it should be retained as such.

And he pointed out that the housing proposed by Barratt, which was described as ‘windfall’ housing – which refers to a site which becomes available unexpectedly – would “simply supplement an already generous housing land supply”.

Despite rejecting the appeal, the reporter said that he accepted the views of the developers and the District Valuer that the site was not financially viable as employment land in the current market conditions.

He said: “While I cannot be certain that there is no prospect of a business or industrial use being realised on the whole site, the information for this appeal indicates that, in the current economic conditions, it would be unlikely.”

However, he questioned whether the plans to build 116 houses and provide the local authority with 0.6 hectares of “serviced land” to build business units on it were possible, with no evidence the units would be created or could operate next to the new residential development.

The reporter said: “I find that the housing proposed would not directly enable commercial development to take place.

“Although not likely to be currently viable, the site would be removed as a strategic long-term employment option.”

East Lothian Council welcomed the ruling which is the first housing appeal to have been ruled in their favour since their new Local Development Plan was adopted.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, planning convenor, said: “We welcome the outcome of this appeal both in the context of the Scottish Government Reporter upholding a decision that was carefully considered by East Lothian’s Planning Committee, and of course in respect of our adopted East Lothian Local Development Plan 2018, which is now the basis of all planning considerations in East Lothian and provides clear guidance on what type of development will be acceptable and where. It is in place to protect the fabric of our communities and to allow for acceptable, sustainable growth.”