SUPPORTERS of plans by B&B owners to downsize have been accused of putting the value of their land over its value to the community.

The owners of Letham House, Haddington, want to build a new property near the historic mansion to operate as a bed and breakfast and their home.

Plans for the new property were rejected by East Lothian Council for breaching the local authority’s policy against newbuilds in the countryside.

The plans received six letters of support and five objections when they were first lodged.

Now, one of the objectors has said that in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis the countryside has become more important than ever to local residents.

And the objector alleged that people who backed the plan were putting their own interests ahead of the wider community.

In a letter submitted to the council’s Local Review Body, which will hear an appeal against the planning decision next month, the objector said: “The identities of those who support the application are not available to me, but I would imagine that among them will be others who value their land as a development opportunity rather than for what it is and its part in a wider landscape that is enjoyed by many and was especially valuable to Haddingtonians during the lockdown.”

The applicants, who own Letham House, had said their plan was to return the historic mansion from a bed and breakfast to a private residence.

They said that they did not want to leave the local area or lose the brand which they had built over the years and so instead wanted to create the smaller property on the grounds, which would offer bed and breakfast, as well as being their main home. And in their appeal to the review body, they argued that the development of the new two-storey house would provide continued tourism and economic benefit to the community and should be allowed.

Clarendon Planning and Development, their agents, said: “The application affords the opportunity for the applicants to downsize whilst providing continuity of residence and, moreover, sustaining economic development, including employment facilitated by associated B&B accommodation when the applicants cease trading Letham House.”

The review body meets this month to decide the appeal.