East Lothian Council is set to make a decision on a plan for 80 new houses at Fenton Barns near Dirleton to fund a new £6 million replacement sewage system in the area.
Members will give their views at a full council meeting on October 22.
Details of the revamped plan were outlined at a pre-determination hearing this week.
Robin Matthew, representing D C Watson & Sons, explained that employment uses were also proposed.
He said: “The existing treatment works serves Fenton Barns retail village, surrounding businesses and also accommodates 74 residential dwellings. In total this treatment works accommodates approximately 500 jobs. The employment land we are proposing could be passed over to the council in recognition of the shortfall.”
Mr Matthew stressed that “a do nothing scenario” was not an option.
He explained: “Enabling development at Fenton Barns will protect residential and business uses that are located there. If planning permission is granted, a housing developer will be found to undertake that part of the proposed development. The applicant would provide gap funding to construct the drainage connection and they would be paid back through a land deal with the developer.
“The consequences of refusal of planning permission are serious for both the Scottish Environment Protection Agency treatment works licence holder and all the businesses and residential dwellings that are reliant on the sewage system. The works have been repeatedly failing to meet SEPA testing standards in recent years,” said Mr Matthew.
He warned that, if the plan was refused, the licence holder would formally notify all those connected to the system that it was going to be shut down.
“Restriction and closure would likely be done within a short timescale,” he stressed.
Martin White of West Fenton said; “This application like its predecessor is plainly at odds with policy and the recent South East of Scotland Development Plan. This time it’s got 43 objections - the previous one had 15.”
He claimed the Scottish Water charges would be “substantial” when it adopted the system and argued that rural waste processing should be done in a sustainable way.
He said that getting councils “to lay the foundations for a new town in the wrong place was completely the wrong answer to the problem.”
Dave Holloway of Dirleton Village Association, SEPA’s former area manager, voiced concerned the development would have no local infrastructure such as schools, shops and transport links. He claimed there were “significantly cheaper” drainage options.
Tom Drysdale, Gullane Area Community Council, branded the proposal a “significant encroachment” into the countryside on land that wasn’t zoned for housing.
He commented: “It seems to us that the main economic drivers in the coastal ward are agriculture, leisure and tourism. If you give Fenton Barns the capacity to develop into what could effectively amount to the makings of a new town, this will strike at the very heart of what makes the area productive and attractive to visitors.”