HOLIDAY flat owners are warning East Lothian Council that its ‘moratorium on communal spaces’ is having a negative impact on tourist accommodation in North Berwick.

Stuart and Susan McLean have appealed after planners refused to grant planning permission for their holiday let in the town because it had a shared entrance hall with neighbours.

At the time, planners ruled that short-term holiday lets like the one the couple were operating on Quality Street in the town centre were not compatible with residential blocks of flats which shared stairwells.

And they raised concerns about "expensive equipment" such as bicycles stored in the communal area, saying that holiday lets could bring security concerns.

READ MORENorth Berwick flat owner not allowed to use it as a holiday let

However, in their appeal against the decision, which will be heard at the next meeting of the council’s local review body, the McLeans say that they are "very concerned" about the ban.

Pointing out that one flat which had been used as a holiday let in the past on the same street was lying empty and had been on the market since last summer without a buyer being found, they also claimed that another operation of flatted tourist accommodation on the street had now withdrawn from the market.

They say: “We are very concerned, both as holiday flat owners and as local residents, the impact that this 'moratorium on communal spaces' is having on NB local property market, available tourist accommodation and local economy.”

The planning application for the flat on Quality Street brought objections from two local residents, who were concerned that "multiple strangers" entering and leaving the building would pose a security risk.

North Berwick Community Council also backed planners, who rejected the change of use last month, saying that flats with shared stairwells should not be considered for holiday lets.

They said: “It has been clearly established that flats with communal entrances are not suitable for holiday lets out of consideration for the neighbours sharing the flatted building.”

Original use as a hotel

The appeal against the decision sees the McLeans claim that security concerns over "expensive equipment" should not apply, as leaving it in communal areas is a fire hazard,

And they argue that the history of the building means the shared stairwell is not like other properties.

They say: “The building, though built at the turn of the 19th century, is not of traditional tenement style. Its original use was that of a hotel.

“Therefore its stairwell is well equipped with generous landings for those carrying any baggage up and down stairs.

“The entrance door is double doored. We also offer our guests the free use of a large, ground-floor, lockable cupboard for any items they wish to store e.g. golf clubs/bikes. This internal cupboard is directly opposite the main communal entrance.”