Anger as plan for houses at Culloden is approved
SCOTLAND’S main heritage group has hit out at a “flawed” planning system after a controversial application to build 16 houses at Culloden was given the go-ahead.
The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) said Highland Council was given “no choice” but to approve the construction, despite the location being within a conservation zone and “the historic boundaries of one of the most pivotal battlefields in all of Scotland’s history”.
There had been widespread opposition to the development of luxury homes at Viewhill Farm but Highland Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure (EDI) Committee granted permission.
The site is within the boundary of the Culloden (Battlefield) Conservation Area and Historic Environment Scotland’s Inventory of Historic Battlefields.
Historians have claimed that the 1746 Battle of Culloden was fought in part on the site, and soldiers are likely to be buried there.
The committee voted by 12 votes to eight in favour of granting permission to developer Kirkwood Homes.
The NTS said the decision was the result of a flawed planning system.
Diarmid Hearns, head of policy for NTS, said: “The situation at Culloden perfectly illustrates why the current planning system has to be reformed and that the current balance between the rights of communities, the significance of national heritage and the profits of developers is out of kilter.
“Local people and the democratically elected Highland Council rejected the application to build houses at Viewhill Farm in 2013; yet developers were able to use a route of appeal not open to ordinary residents to have this decision overturned by the Scottish Reporter. This was the wrong decision in the wrong place.”
Planning permission for properties had been granted by a Scottish Governmentappointed planning official in 2014. However, changes to the design and layout of the homes followed the transfer of the site to new owners.
Highland councillors had earlier deferred a decision on Aberdeenshire-based Kirkwood Homes’ project to give the developer time to supply designs more sensitive to the surrounding area.
The process descended into chaos in March when councillors voted to grant the application “by mistake”. The decision was suspended after Conservative councillor Andrew Jarvie, who voted to reject the plans, submitted a Notice of Amendment, asking for the vote to be reviewed because of doubts over the outcome.
The application was considered again from scratch by the council’s EDI committee.
Mr Jarvie said: “I’m bitterly disappointed. This was the final route of appeal.”
The Inverness South councillor said that only the Scottish Government has the power to recall the Reporter’s decision, but he added: “Given that it’s four years on and they’ve not done it so far, it seems unlikely.”
Campaign group The Historians Committee On Culloden said the Reporter’s decision to allow planning permission was based on inaccurate information surrounding where the battle was fought.
The group said the area of Viewhill Farm played a significant part in the fighting between Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army and British Government troops and bodies are likely to be buried on the site, which should be considered a war grave.
Highland Council said: “At today’s meeting of the EDI Committee members considered the Notice of Amendment and then went on to approve the application following a vote which went 12 votes to eight in favour of approving the application.”