by Marie Sharp Local Democracy Reporter

An application to build a private house on the site of a former amusement arcade which is used as an unofficial car park by local residents has been approved.

The amusement arcade site in Dunbar has lain empty for decades and become a regular car park for local residents in the town.

Residents objected to the plans to build a house on the site, pointing out it would lead to a loss of what had become ‘overspill’ parking for the town.

However, East Lothian Council’s planning officers ruled that the issue of parking was not a ‘material planning consideration’ when deciding whether to approve the new house.

And they ruled that the new home, which was described as contemporary in design, would be acceptable in the town.

The site of the amusement arcade, which is next to a children’s play park on Lamer Street in Dunbar’s conservation area, was at the centre of a legal battle over plans to building housing on it nearly 15 years ago.

The arcade itself opened in the late 1950s after it was sold to a leisure firm by its owners, who also owned a hotel behind it.

Part of the terms of sale of the seafront site were that the height of any future buildings on the land would be restricted to single storey.

The arcade went out of business and the building became derelict before being demolished and the hotel was converted into flats.

Residents living in the flats in 2006 opposed a bid by the landowner J & L Leisure Ltd to have the condition regarding the height of any future development changed to allow a two-storey property on the land.

They took their case to the Lands Tribunal but lost out after it ruled the request “reasonable”.

Initially, plans for seven flats on the site were approved by the local authority; however, that plan has not come forward.

Now the plan is for a four-bedroom home, which will have a partial second storey and gardens buffering the property and neighbouring homes.

Planning officers said they received four representations regarding the plans which objected to the loss of the car parking space, arguing that the style of the house was out of keeping with the conservation area and that the site would be better suited to community use.

However, they also received one letter of support from someone keen to see the site brought back into use.

And they said that Dunbar Community Council supported the application on the grounds it offered the opportunity to regenerate the area and bring it back into use as a habitable home.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency : funded by the BBC, provided by the local news sector, and used by qualifying partners. Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.