THE owners of an East Lothian holiday flat have claimed that complaints about its use  are "unsubstantiated gossip" created by an "echo chamber" effect on social media.

KLE Property Ltd has lodged an appeal after it was refused permission for a change of use of the property, on Musselburgh’s New Street, from residential to short-term let (STL).

East Lothian planners rejected the application after ruling that the holiday use of the flat, which shares a communal entrance with five other properties, was "not compatible" with residential living.

In an appeal set to go before the council’s local review body later this month, the property company, which has operated the flat as holiday rental since 2019, hit back at claims by objectors that there had been incidents with "nuisance guests", people ringing the wrong buzzers and trying to get into the wrong flat at unsociable hours, and anti-social behaviour.

Instead, they said that the comments raised in objections were part of a "polarised agenda" by some who opposed short-term lets across Scotland; they urged councillors on the body to treat them with "extreme caution".

'Echo chamber'

Responding to five objections lodged at the time of the original application last year, the firm said: “Councillors must consider all representations understanding that there is an ‘echo chamber’ effect going on where people opposed to short-term lets are availing themselves of social media groups that share similar views, using platforms and apps where objections can easily be made to STL applications in local areas and, inevitably, are reading press articles that do not always present a balanced view.

“The comments that have been made here must, therefore, be treated with extreme caution and, although the applicant has responded, it is clear that most are unsubstantiated gossip, and the sort of comments that are being submitted across Scotland by people with a certain polarised agenda.”

They argued that Police Scotland had no record of any incidents at the flat, despite claims by objectors, and insisted that they received no complaints about guests at the property themselves.

And they said that claims by objectors which were not supported with evidence should not even be included in a public document such as the application’s Report of Handling.

They added of one claim – that the applicant had been approached about the nuisance guests caused by a neighbouring resident, who claimed that they were told they should not live in a tenement building if they wanted peace and quiet – “this is what is called unsubstantiated hearsay. It would have no validity in a court case and should have none here”.

The case will be heard by the review body later this month.