A ROW over plans to build a ‘grass-roofed’ house next to a listed building is set to see East Lothian Council's policy against new housing being built in the countryside challenged.

Planners refused to grant planning permission for the four-bedroom home proposed for land next to the former Heugh Reservoir in a field on the edge of North Berwick.

Officers said that council policy which presumed against new homes unless they were enabling a rural business meant the house could not go ahead.

However, representatives for the applicant have described the policy as “flawed” and they launched an appeal against the decision, which they say goes against national guidance issued to all councils over a decade ago.

Applicant Tom Tait had argued that the site of the new house was just 180 metres from the town’s boundary and would be on a corner of an agricultural field which had become unusable because large farming machinery could not access it.

The new home, at The Heugh, would have had a roof covered with green sedum – a type of plant which grows out in a mat shape.

East Lothian Courier: An artist's impression of how the new house would fit between the conical-shaped water tank and present buildings. Image: East Lothian Council planning portal

Agents acting on behalf of Mr Tait argued that 14 houses had already been built next to the site, which they claimed was infill between the homes and the Category B listed water tank.

However, planning officers ruled that despite the green plans for the roof of the house, it would “set an undesirable precedent for the development of new houses within East Lothian’s countryside”.

Sixteen objections to the plans for the new house were lodged, raising concerns about the loss of prime agricultural land, impact on wildlife and the views at the site, as well as claims it would "dwarf the existing pair of houses to its east”.

North Berwick Community Council objected over the visual impact of the house on the area.

The group said: “While the grass roof makes an attempt to minimise the visual impact of the proposed house, it still clearly sticks out above the ground, harmfully altering the iconic skyline of North Berwick.”

READ MOREAmbitious plans for house near Heugh Reservoir turned down

In a statement of appeal which will go before the council’s Local Review Body in December, agents for Mr Tait argue that the council is ignoring national guidance which allows for “small-scale infill developments” in rural areas.

And they say that East Lothian Council is the only local authority in the south east of Scotland region that applies the enabling restriction which ties any new housing’s occupants to a business.

They say: “National planning policy and guidance is clear that new homes in the countryside can be supported in instances where there is no operational requirement.

“National guidance is also clear that occupancy restrictions on new homes should be avoided.

“The council’s approach to new housing development in the countryside is therefore flawed.”