DUNBAR councillor Norman Hampshire used his casting vote to approve plans for up to 115 houses and a cemetery on the edge of the town – despite the scheme being recommended for refusal by planning officials and being outwith the county’s proposed Local Development Plan (LDP).

East Lothian Council’s planning committee discussed plans for land at Newtonlees Farm, to the east of the town, last Tuesday afternoon.

With the vote tied at 4-4, Mr Hampshire, who voted for the scheme to be approved, used his power as planning committee convenor to give the scheme the green light.

Mr Hampshire said: “[Deciding the outcome of the plans through my casting vote] is not the position I wanted to be in.

“I would prefer it to be a majority one way or the other.”

Gladman Developments Ltd’s plans for up to 115 houses and a new cemetery for the town had been recommended for refusal by East Lothian Council’s planning department.

Eight members of the planning committee heard from both the town’s community council and resident William Main about their concerns regarding the proposals.

Jacquie Bell, secretary of the community council, which meets on Monday, had outlined 10 concerns about the plans. Among those was the fact the development is not within the LDP.

Mrs Bell said: “Dunbar Community Council has taken a full part in the consultation on this plan and the proposals for the Dunbar area.

“We believe that given the large amount of work and consultation that has gone into selecting sites for new housing, there should be a presumption not to give permission to sites that are not contained within [the LDP].”

Other concerns ranged from its impact on the town’s infrastructure to the potential merger of Dunbar and the hamlet of Broxburn, as well as fears about the likely increase in traffic on Queen’s Road and Spott Road in the town and the junction with the A1 near the cement works.

According to the report before councillors there is no longer a shortage in five-year supply of effective housing land in East Lothian.

Instead, based on the up-to-date 2017 Housing Land Audit, the council is able to demonstrate a supply of 6.17 years.

Mr Hampshire said potential developers disputed the findings and the council was still “quite vulnerable” to potential developments outwith the Local Development Plan.

He said: “My concern is the west of East Lothian, which has taken the bulk of the new developments; the capacity for more is very, very limited.

“In the east there is a desperate need for more additional affordable housing.

“This will deliver 29 units.”

As well as the additional housing, which is to the south-east of the under-construction 240 homes in the neighbouring field, an extension to Deer Park Cemetery will be created.

The community council had questioned the location and even set up a sub-group in a bid to find alternative locations for a new cemetery in the town.

After the meeting, Conservative councillor Lachlan Brucesaid: “Myself and my Conservative colleagues were disappointed by the decision taken to vote through the application ‎at Newtonlees Farm despite the clear recommendations of the planning officials and the fact that the site is not included in the Local Development Plan.

“In particular, comments from the planning convenor suggesting that East Lothian has an inadequate level of available housing land came as a disappointment, in particular as only seven days before the council had heard that East Lothian had more than the necessary five years’ supply available.

“The decision and comments could lead to an increase in speculative applications from developers on unsuitable sites.”