A BUILDERS’ yard, which sparked 37 objections after plans to site it next to new housing were unveiled, has been given the go-ahead by a single vote.

MKM Building Supplies says its new yard in Haddington will create 18 local jobs and be up and running by the end of this year.

However, plans to open the yard on employment land, which had previously been earmarked for a nursing home, sparked a wave of protests from people living in neighbouring houses.

And at a meeting of East Lothian Council’s planning committee this week, councillors were split over the application, with committee chairman Councillor Norman Hampshire given the deciding vote.

The committee heard concerns from local residents about the plans, which followed a proposal for a nursing home and separate proposal for business units on the land being approved in recent years, both of which are still in place.

John Lancaster, whose house is adjacent to the site, which is on the corner Gateside Road and the B6471, at the western entrance into Haddington, told the committee that, when he bought his house, plans had been approved for a nursing home on the land.

He said: “I was happy to buy a house next to a nursing home, not this.”

Mr Lancaster objected to the builders’ yard, which he said would not protect the “residential character and amenity of the area”.

Fellow Gateside resident Helen Fraser also objected, suggesting the yard was more suited to an industrial estate than next to residential homes.

And she told councillors, who were told that another planning application for business units was also currently approved on the site, as well as the nursing home and builders’ yard options, that the land owner did not know what to do with it.

She said: “The site is still for sale and it seems the owner is sitting with a site they do not know what to do with, that is not East Lothian Council’s problem.”

Councillors were told that any of the three proposals for the site could still come to fruition but it would be a case of “first come, first served”, with only room for one on the land.

Tom Penrose, representing MKM, told the committee that the firm was ready to go once approval was granted and hoped to be up and running by the end of this year.

Councillor John McMillan, ward member, called in the application, which officers had recommended for approval, after noting that there were 18 separate conditions placed on the approval.

Mr McMillan said that the high number of conditions, which officers confirmed was not usual, sparked alarm bells for him.

He said: “If you look at the number of conditions which are being imposed to safeguard the neighbouring properties, I have genuine concerns about them.”

And fellow ward councillor Craig Hoy told the committee that approving the plans could risk efforts at “place-making” in Haddington.

He said: “We have to try and preserve the integrity of the town and here potentially we are compromising it.”

The committee voted five votes to five to approve planning permission, with Councillor Hampshire’s vote, as chairperson, breaking the deadlock.

Councillor Hampshire said: “This is 18 jobs, something we desperately need in Haddington. We are getting lots of houses but not jobs.”