Pressmennan Lake House ‘shameless’ modern extension approved on appeal

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Plans to replace an extension of an old hunting lodge with a “shameless” modern version have been given the green light.

The owners of Pressmennan Lake House appealed to the local review body of East Lothian Council after being refused planning permission for a new extension to the 150-year-old building.

Planning officers judged the extension would be “significantly different” from the main Victorian house – which sits on the shores of Lake Pressmennan in the countryside south of Stenton – describing it as “exceedingly large”.

However, councilors disagreed with their assessment and agreed with the owners that the current extension should be demolished and replaced.

The owners’ agent told the review body that the original extension, built in 2012, was a ‘pastiche’ of the original building style and the result was an ‘unbalanced building’.

He added that the proposed extension was “shamelessly contemporary” but reinforced the importance of the main building rather than trying to copy it.

The new two-storey extension, which has a basement, was described as a ‘smart’ design and it was pointed out that views from the house, which is surrounded by woods and an enclosed garden, were all private and that there had been no public objection to the plans.

Councilor John McMillan, Provost of East Lothian, said the site of the house was unique, adding: ‘I have visited this area for many years and really didn’t know the house.

He voted to uphold the appeal after acknowledging the impact Covid-19 had had on family life.

He said: “What’s on offer is modern, to match the family’s purpose. It will be contemporary but I think it will add value to this house as it develops.

“One of the things that came to me in another case last year is the effect of Covid on families, the need for space, the need for people to work from home and live from home.

“It strikes me that what’s on offer here is different, but it responds to the need for a change over time, a change caused by Covid, and I think overall the development will add value to a single site.”

Councilor Neil Gilbert said protecting older buildings was not just about their appearance but also about their fitness for use, which he believed the new extension would do.

The review body allowed the appeal and granted the building permit.

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