THE chairman of East Lothian Council’s planning committee has applied to the local authority to transform his Dunbar hotel into a single house.

The Eden Hotel dates back to the 1930s and has been owned by Councillor Norman Hampshire – the stand-in leader of East Lothian Council and the chairman of its planning committee – since 1989.

However, the Dunbar ward councillor told the Courier that his increased workload meant he was particularly keen to sell the building, which has been on the market for a decade.

Planning approval had previously been granted to transform the building on Dunbar’s Belhaven Road into a house but that permission had since lapsed.

Mr Hampshire had previously intended to carry out the work to the hotel himself but the collapse of the property market saw those plans put on hold.

He said: “I continued running the hotel for another few years.

“I’m trying to [carry out my role as] the environment spokesman for the council and I’m also deputy leader.

“I’m up to my eyes in work for the council and don’t have the time for the hotel. I’m working seven days a week and sometimes 12-16 hours a day and it is just not sustainable [to do both].

“I have taken the decision it has to be one or the other and I want to do the council.

“I am going to put in for a change of use and try to get a buyer to take it on.”

Mr Hampshire is acting leader of the council during council leader Willie Innes’ leave of absence as he undergoes treatment for cancer.

The hotel has seven en-suite bedrooms and two downstairs bars where guests can enjoy meals.

Connected to the building is a manager’s flat, which would also become part of the main house under the proposals.

Mr Hampshire, who has been a councillor for the area since 1988, would prefer the hotel, which is being marketed at offers over £450,000, to remain in business but is keeping his options open.

Currently, his latest plans are with the council’s planning department.

A decision would likely be taken by that department but if the proposals came before the planning committee, which Mr Hampshire chairs, he would be unable to take part in any discussions or vote.

Stephen Bunyan, chairman of the town’s community council, had no objection to the plans.

He highlighted that recent changes in drink-driving laws in Scotland had resulted in a number of pubs struggling.