A BID to build a house on part of a gypsy travellers site, which was set up to offer a landowner’s extended family a place to stay a decade ago, will go to appeal this month after being rejected by planners.

The travellers site was built on the outskirts of Tranent in 2014, but a report due to go before an appeal body this month says it is no longer in demand.

Paris McCallum applied for planning permission to build a house on two of the pitches on the site, which had initially been able to accommodate 12 caravans.

However, East Lothian planners refused planning permission, saying that the house would breach its policy against new builds in the countryside.

An appeal to the council’s local review body reveals that the caravan site is not considered a viable business post-Covid, with fewer visitors using it or willing to pay to stay.

'Not appropriate or attractive'

In a statement supporting the application for the new house, Ms McCallum’s agent says: “The reason for the application is that it has become evident over recent years that the site is not appropriate or attractive as a destination for mobile travellers.

“This is substantiated by lower levels of occupancy across the Lothians and Scotland post-Covid-19, with mobile travellers favouring more modern and well-equipped sites.

“Furthermore, gypsy travellers are less prepared to pay for private pitches given the cost-of-living crisis.

“Given the drop in demand and occupancy with very few enquiries, it has become evident that the operation for travellers’ pitches would not be a viable business in the current circumstances.”

The travellers site was built without planning permission initially and East Lothian councillors refused to grant it, mainly because of their concerns about it being built without the official go-ahead.

An appeal to Scottish Ministers saw it eventually granted permission.

At the time, the landowner said it would be a place for his extended family to come and visit.

'Aggrieved' by decision

In March last year, planning permission, partly retrospective, was granted for one house to replace a pitch on the site; however, Ms McCallum’s application to build a second home on additional pitches was refused.

Planners said that the build would constitute a new home in the countryside without meeting any of the exemptions which would justify it.

Agents for the applicant described their view of the steading as in a rural local as "outdated", pointing to the buildings already on the steading, which lies 300 metres from new housing on the edge of Tranent.

Ms McCallum, who is described in her agent’s supporting statement as a "settled traveller of gypsy heritage", was said to be "aggrieved’ by the decision of the planners.

Her appeal will be heard at a local review body hearing later this month.