THE decision to reject plans for a McDonald’s restaurant in Musselburgh has been challenged.

The fast food chain has appealed to the Scottish Government against East Lothian Council’s rejection of its plans for a fast-food hub.

The Scottish Government’s planning and environmental appeals division is being asked to overturn the decision and allow a drive-thru restaurant to be created in the car park of the town’s Tesco store.

The plans, which were rejected by the local authority’s planning committee last August, attracted more than 150 letters of objection from members of the public.

Concerns included increased traffic congestion in the area, as well as the impact on healthy eating, particularly to children given the site’s proximity to Musselburgh Grammar School.

The planning committee voted to go against officers’ recommendation and refuse the application on the grounds of its impact on traffic, air quality and noise impact on the amenity of the surrounding residences.

Councillors Stuart Currie, Andrew Forrest and Katie Mackie, who represent the town on East Lothian Council, all spoke at the virtual committee meeting to outline their opposition to the scheme.

Mr Currie, SNP Group leader on the council, has now called for all four ward members to put party politics aside and to write a joint letter to the Reporter assigned to the case calling for the scheme to be rejected again.

He said: “First of all, I’m disappointed that McDonald’s have appealed because the strength of feeling in the community was pretty resolute.

“There was not any doubt about the views of the vast, vast majority of people in the town.

“I hope the Reporter rejects the appeal. The grounds it was rejected on were fairly robust and it was unanimous. There is a McDonald’s drive-thru a mile-and-a-half away at Fort Kinnaird.

“One of the big reasons why people in the town were against it was the congestion. The congestion next to that area of the town is a disgrace and this will only add to it.”

Ward colleague Mr Forrest said he would consider sending a joint letter to the Reporter.

He said: “I have to admit, the appeal does not come as a surprise to me.

“I would like to think that the Reporter will take into account everything that was said to planning.

“There were a lot of valid reasons given, both by our planning department and the objectors.

“I would like to think they take that into consideration with anything else that is put forward by anybody else.”

Mr Forrest told the Courier he had visited Fort Kinnaird ahead of the planning committee meeting to see how traffic flowed.

In the space of an hour, according to the councillor, there were more than 70 vehicles in the area.

More than 60 documents have been sent to DPEA by McDonald’s, which says that more than 65 part-time and full-time jobs would be created, as it bids to get the decision overturned.

In a document outlining the reasons for appeal, McDonald’s highlights that more than 130 car parking spaces would be lost but says the remaining car park is big enough for both the supermarket and the restaurant.

It argues that there would be “no increased congestion as there is no existing capacity or congestion issue and there would be no material impact on the operation of the road network due to the McDonald’s traffic”.