COMMUNITY groups and politicians have expressed their delight at a Scottish Government Reporter’s decision to turn down proposals for 300 new homes east of Musselburgh.

Both Musselburgh and Prestonpans community councils had opposed the application by developers BDW Trading Ltd/Ashfield Commercial Properties Ltd for planning permission in principle to build the houses at Goshen Farm.

Irene Tait, chairperson of Musselburgh & Inveresk Community Council, said: “I am so delighted that the proposed housing at Goshen has been knocked back – it’s been years and many letters were sent in opposition to the plan.

"I am delighted that, after all these years of communication, it has been rejected.

"This is good news for Musselburgh.”

Developers BDW Trading Ltd/Ashfield Commercial Properties Ltd lodged an appeal with Scottish Ministers in October last year – more than three years after their application to East Lothian Council – after the local authority failed to determine the application within the statutory time period.

Last Wednesday, reporter Mike Shiel announced the appeal had been dismissed and planning permission was refused.

Barry Turner, planning spokesman for Musselburgh Conservation Society, said the decision was a “welcome” one, calling the debate about whether housing developments should take place at Goshen Farm a “long saga”.

He added: “The society has always maintained that, for a whole host of reasons, this is the wrong place to be locating major development.

“We are pleased that the reporter has agreed with many of the arguments that we put forward in our submission.

“However, notwithstanding that we have the result that we desired, we are surprised that he did not give greater acknowledgement to the likely traffic and air quality impact in Musselburgh High Street.

"We are also surprised by the lack of a specific reference in the report to over-urbanisation on the east side of the town, which could have been added to his comments on other local impacts.”

Mr Turner expressed his concern for the future of the site, saying it would be preferable to have the land taken into public ownership.

He explained: “There is left the question of what happens to the land at Goshen Farm now.

"Hopefully the developers will give up but there is no certainty of that, especially if they have a significant financial commitment here.

“The main focus must be on getting these fields back into beneficial use.

"There are suggestions of a community buy-out for community and educational agriculture, including allotments.”

News of the reporter’s decision was also welcomed by Councillor Stuart Currie, who represents the Musselburgh ward, after East Lothian Council urged the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division to turn down the proposals, saying it would lead to “an unacceptable loss of prime agricultural land”.

Mr Currie said: “This is a very welcome decision by the reporter to dismiss the appeal and refuse planning consent for houses to be built on Goshen Farm.

“In 2015 I made clear my view that this was the wrong development in the wrong place.”

He added that he had “yet to find a single constituent” who thought the development plans were a good idea.

He said: “I am so pleased for the community and all the campaigners who stepped up to say no, a view shared by the reporter.

“This must be the end of the matter and I hope it sends a clear signal that communities value our green space.”

His views were shared by Councillor John Williamson, who also represents Musselburgh, and was “delighted” the reporter had dismissed the appeal.

He added: “I am sure that the whole community who fought hard to stop the site being developed welcome the decision.”

Kenny MacAskill, MP for East Lothian, said: “It’s welcome news.

"The pressures on local services from the scale of the development would have had a profound and damaging impact on the local community.

"Development there must be but there are limits and this was one.”

Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, added: “I am relieved that the Scottish Government has rejected this appeal.

“There seems to be little local support for the project and I am increasingly concerned at the ongoing loss of high quality agricultural land to housing.

“We have a limited supply of prime agricultural land and I feel we should be protecting it – not destroying it.”

Ashfield Commercial Properties were asked to comment but had not done so by the time of going to press.