A BID to build a three-bedroom house on the edge of a small rural community was branded an “unnatural expansion” of the village by a Scottish Government Reporter.

G Tuer & Sons wanted to build the house at a former quarry in Whitekirk, immediately to the east of the village hall.

However, East Lothian Council refused planning permission after receiving 25 letters of objection signed, it was claimed, by 70 per cent of the village’s 101 residents.

An appeal to Scottish Ministers by Mr Rob Tuer has now also failed amid concerns the build would impact on village life.

In a decision issued last week, the Reporter said: “I find that the proposed extension would result in an unnatural expansion of the village, which is not in keeping with the existing strong settlement pattern.”

At a meeting of East Lothian Council’s planning committee last November, Councillor Jeremy Findlay said that the objections to the house plan, some of which had more than one signature on them, represented “about 70 per cent of the population of the village”.

He urged fellow councillors to refuse planning permission for the house, which would be built less than eight metres from the village hall, telling them: “I have never come across such a high level of objection from a community.”

Local residents voiced concern about losing the amenity of the site, the impact on events in the village hall, and argued that the proximity to volcanic outcrops, described as a special landscape area, was unacceptable.

Councillors had voted overwhelmingly to throw out the planning application, despite a recommendation from their own council officers to approve it.

Appealing against the decision, the developers insisted the plans met “all relevant national and local planning policies and guidance”.

And they said claims that the proposed one-and-a-half-storey home was on a special landscape area – the Whitekirk and Balgone outcrops – were incorrect.

They stated: “It is difficult to understand why the planning committee deemed this site to be particularly important in terms of open space and the character or recreation and amenity requirements of the area, to the point where planning permission should be refused.”

However, the Reporter dismissed the argument that the quarry where the house was to go added no value to the conservation area. Instead, he found the quarry to be an important element of the conservation area, adding that the clear historic function of it added to the understanding of how the village had developed over time, whilst acting as a fitting boundary to the settlement in its semi-naturalised form.

He also agreed with concerns raised by residents that the close proximity of the proposed new house to the village hall would lead to conflict over noise.

One of the reasons for refusing planning permission was concern that once the new residents were in the house, complaints about noise from the hall, with less than eight metres between the two buildings, would impact on its use by the village.

The Reporter said: “I do not find that the future occupants of the dwelling would enjoy reasonable levels of privacy or amenity at all times given the events that take place within the hall.”