AN HISTORIC house which was once home to the first Premier of the Colony of New South Wales and has a name celebrated in Australia is at the centre of a battle by developers.

East Lothian Council planners have rejected two applications to build houses next to Tenterfield House in Haddington.

The category-B listed house dates back to the 18th century and was once home to Sir Stuart Donaldson, who served as Premier in 1856.

Although his premiership was short and he resigned after two months and 20 days, he gave the house name to the town of Tenterfield, where he lived, and through that to the Tenterfield Oration – a speech which led to the federation of Australia.

Sir Stuart’s Haddington home would go on to be a Christie Home for Orphans until it was taken over by the local authority.

It closed in 1992 and was converted into flats.

The housing plans are for land which had previously been part of the house gardens which have been subdivided.

KRA has applied for planning permission to build two homes on one part of the land and a single house next door to them.

Both applications have previously been rejected by the council’s planning officers.

Local objectors submitted concerns which ranged from the impact on a colony of bats which live in Tenterfield House to concerns about losing mature trees and a loss of privacy.

Planning officers said claims by the applicant that the site did not form any part of recreational amenity of the area demonstrated they had “failed to understand that the grassed open area is a valuable amenity asset within the area, depicting the parkland character and the feeling of openness within the treed landscape”.

Planning officers also raised concerns about the impact on the wider Haddington conservation area and another listed building Old Bank House.

The applicant is appealing their decision, insisting that the impact on the conservation area and setting of the listed buildings is “minor” and would in the long term prove beneficial.

The council’s Local Review Body will discuss the appeal at a meeting on Thursday.