“We take decisions on planning policy not popularity,” said Councillor Norman Hampshire in rejecting Gifford Community Council’s request to block plans for a new house in the grounds of Garden Cottage, Gifford (Courier, November 12).

As one of the members of the community who wrote a letter of objection to the Garden Cottage planning application and a near neighbour of Garden Cottage, I find Mr Hampshire’s comments patronising, implausible and offensive – 19 letters of objection were submitted to East Lothian Council (ELC) from Gifford residents and neighbours of Garden Cottage. We took professional advice. The advice was that the application contravened a number of ELC policies.

The community made it clear they were not against the owner’s right to build a house in their garden. But they were very concerned about the scale of the development on such a small site (a three-bedroomed two-storey house); the wanton loss of trees; and various privacy issues, including three windows on the first floor overlooking adjacent properties.

Adam White, chair of Gifford Community Council, reiterated these points at the planning hearing on November 3 – all to no avail.

We are genuinely perplexed by the outcome especially as, some eight years ago, councillors took a diametrically opposite decision.

In 2012, as the then owners of Forbes Lodge (a property adjacent to Garden Cottage), my wife and I applied for planning permission for two small houses in our garden – one for ourselves and one for my mother-in-law (on a much bigger site, incidentally, to that of Garden Cottage). The ELC planners approved this proposal.

However, 30 residents of the village – supported by Gifford Community Council (GCC) – objected, mainly on the grounds of overdevelopment. ELC’s planning committee upheld GCC’s concerns and approval for the application was reversed.

In hindsight, the village and councillors were right (happily, we successfully re-applied for just one house – Orchard House – with the approval of just about everybody, with the proviso that no windows should overlook neighbouring properties).

So in 2012, the views of local residents were supported in their opposition to overdevelopment, but eight years later they weren’t. This planning inconsistency makes a mockery of local democracy; it also wastes people’s valuable time and money. What is the point of members of the community taking the trouble to make valid objections, only to be overturned by a planning committee seemingly deaf to the concerns of residents and who cannot be trusted to make consistent decisions? Surely, we are entitled to expect much better from our local councillors?

Andrew Hamilton

Orchard House

Tweeddale Avenue