CLAIMS six new houses needed to be built to fund the restoration of an old steading building were rejected by East Lothian councillors who branded the plans “over-development”.

Plans to build the new houses at the site, next to Longnewton Farm,  near Gifford, were put forward along with three new homes being created within the restored steading building.

They were rejected by planning officers as against the council’s countryside policy.

And at a Local Review Body meeting of East Lothian Council, an appeal against that decision was also rejected.

It was revealed the site had been given the go-ahead for 14 smaller homes to be built there in the past; however, they were planned to be constructed within existing buildings.

The new proposals would see a number of buildings on the site demolished.

Agents for the application said they approached East Lothian Council in 2017 with a pre-application enquiry but were told the council’s countryside policy was against new builds unless they met strict exemptions, and were advised to consider converting the buildings on the land.

However, they said no consideration appeared to have been given to the previous approval of 14 houses on the site.

They warned there was a “very real risk of losing attractive traditional agricultural buildings which are understood to date from the 18th century, if further deterioration takes place due to a viable and marketable development solution not being found”.

However, at the review body, Councillor Lachlan Bruce said a balance had to be struck between the importance of saving historic buildings and protecting the countryside.

He said: “I think in this case the officer was right to say that the balance here is out of kilter.”

Mr Bruce added that the council’s countryside policy was one of the most important they had, to protect rural parts of the county.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, who chaired the review body, acknowledged that the local authority had supported developments across the county which had seen old steading buildings restored.

He said: “Looking at the site, the steading is in really bad condition and needs work done to it or it will be lost forever; however, I think this project is an over-development of the site.”

The review body unanimously rejected the appeal.