Objectors have questioned the asking price for a former bank on Westgate, as council planners turned down an application to turn the building into a home for the third time in a row.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) shut the doors of its North Berwick branch at 12 Westgate in 2018.

Since then, its current owner has seen three applications to turn the property into a home turned down by East Lothian Council.

The local authority’s planning department has repeatedly cited the loss of a ground floor commercial premises within the town centre as reason to turn the plans down.

Planners deemed there was “no evidence that the premises is no longer viable as a town or local centre use”.

That came despite those acting for owner Mrs Patricia Sharp claiming that steps had been taken to gauge interest.

A supporting statement in the latest application noted: “The building has been advertised for more than six months, by means of a sign board, placement in an agent’s stock of buildings available for sale and/or to let, and the distribution of sales materials.

“Between July 6 and December 9, 2021, 39 sets of sales particulars were distributed by the agents.

“A number of inquiries followed. No sensible offers were received.”

The planning department received 12 letters in response to the latest application, with only one supporting it.

North Berwick Community Council also objected to plans to convert the building, on the grounds that it should remain in commercial use.

An East Lothian Council planning officer’s report noted that the group had said: “Both the marketing for sale only and the asking price of offers over £595,000 were unreasonable conditions for a commercial user.

“Any other commercial space in the High Street has been snatched up quickly, either for sales or for office use, and there is no evidence that 12 Westgate would not be attractive for commercial users on more reasonable conditions.”

Concerns about the asking price were also listed among the objections from members of the public.

Among the issues raised in the planning officer’s report was: “Objector would argue that the asking price stated in the marketing material was well above a sensible commercial rate, and on a ‘price per square foot’ basis was more in line with premium residential property prices in the most expensive postcodes of the capital.

“Small wonder, therefore, that parties with a commercial interest were not prepared to meet the asking price.

“This suggests either naivety on the part of the vendor and/or their agent with respect to the property’s true commercial value, or a somewhat cynical strategy designed to engineer an apparent lack of commercial interest.”

A planning application for alterations to the property was first refused in July 2019; this decision was upheld on appeal in January 2020.

A second application for change of use to form a house was refused planning permission in August 2020.