COUNCILLORS could be asked to overturn a decision to refuse a planned furniture-making studio in woods near Gifford.

East Lothian Council’s planning department turned down the proposals for Bolton Muir Wood, despite receiving three letters of support and backing from a neighbouring community council.

Iain Stirling, who graduated from the Chippendale International School of Furniture, near Gifford, in 2021, had hoped to create a furniture studio to home his own business and those of other furniture-makers and craftspeople.

Now the proposals could be referred to the local review body of East Lothian councillors.

Tony Thomas, of APT Planning & Development, is representing the applicant and confirmed that they were “considering their options” for the site, which had a house on it until it was demolished in 2002.

He said: “Understandably, the applicant is bitterly disappointed that the application was refused despite strong support locally and from the council’s economic development team.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to build on the worldwide reputation of the Chippendale International School of Furniture and to turn Gifford into a centre of excellence.

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“The applicant and his team are considering their position with regards to an appeal.”

The building, south of the B6355, would have featured an open plan workshop area, a tea prep area, toilet and welfare space.

A planning statement from the applicant noted that the site provided “a secluded setting”, while the proximity to Gifford meant there would be “a regular feed of prospective tenants”.

The workshop would accommodate five to 10 craftspeople.

Letters of support were sent to the planning department by three members of the public and also Humbie, East and West Saltoun and Bolton Community Council.

The community group highlighted the reuse of a brownfield site and that bespoke furniture-making was “an appropriate activity for a woodland setting”.

However, planning officers outlined five reasons for the scheme to be turned down.

Among the grounds for refusal was that the building would “not be in keeping with, but rather significantly alter, the natural landscape character” and also that the business use was “not directly related to agriculture, horticulture, forestry, infrastructure or countryside recreation”.