A BID by hotel owners to downsize to a new smaller B&B has been thrown out by councillors, despite receiving more letters of support than objections.

The owners of Letham House, Haddington, had been refused planning permission to create a new home on its grounds, which they planned to operate as a bed and breakfast and their home.

And after appealing to East Lothian Council’s Local Review Body, the decision was upheld after officers told the body the plans breached the council’s policy against newbuilds in the countryside.

The plan would have seen the historic Letham House mansion returned to a private residence as the owners moved to the smaller property.

It received six letters of support, arguing the new house would allow a local family to remain in the community.

But it also received five objections, with one claiming those supporting the plans were thinking more about the value of their own land than the surrounding area.

In a letter submitted to the council’s Local Review Body, an objector said: “The identities of those who support the application is 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 private hotel to a private residence.

They said they did not want to leave the area or lose the brand they had built over the years and so wanted to create the smaller property on the grounds, which would offer bed and breakfast as well as being their main home. They argued that a new two-storey house would provide continued tourism and economic benefit.

Despite their plea, the review body backed planning officers and refused planning permission.