Fresh battle lines drawn over new Culloden housing plan

The development land sits around 400 yards of the core battlefield at Culloden (pictured). PIC: Creative Commons/Flickr.
The development land sits around 400 yards of the core battlefield at Culloden (pictured). PIC: Creative Commons/Flickr.
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Battle lines have been drawn once again over land at Culloden after a house builder returned with a fresh plan to develop the site.

Kirkwood Homes wants build 16 homes at Viewhill Farm which sits around 400 yards north of the core site of the 1746 Battle of Culloden, the last pitched battle on British soil.

An international chorus of objection was raised in 2014 over a similar planning application from a different developer with the National Trust for Scotland and Highland Council also opposing the proposals.

READ MORE: Culloden Battlefield, April 16 1746: The worst place on earth

Outlander author Diana Gabaldon was among those who objected, describing the plans as a “crass intrusion” on the site where Charles Edward’s Stuart Jacobite army was defeated by Hanoverian troops.

Despite winning approval by the Scottish Government reporter, the homes never materialised.

Now, the 1745 Association said it will strongly oppose the fresh application with claims the land was viewed as “sacred ground” by its members.

READ MORE: Battle of Culloden: Myths debunked

The Viewhill Farm site now sits within an enlarged Culloden Muir conservation area after the local authority moved to further protect the land in 2015.

It is believed land at Viewhill Farm will have been significant at the time of the battle given Government lines may have extended into this area.

Clea Warner, the National Trust for Scotland’s General Manager for North West Scotland said the Scottish Government was wrong to have approved the original plans- and that more still needed to be done to protect such sites.

She said: “These pivotal places in Scotland’s story deserve better protection at the national level.”

Ms Warner added: “We were concerned that a development like this might set a precedent that would encourage others to come forward and encroach on the landscape on a piece-meal basis, just as has happened at Bannockburn over the years.

“We argued that lessons had to be learned and the planning system modified to ensure better protection for historic battlefields and other important landscapes. Hopefully this will finally be addressed as part of the Scottish Government’s current planning review.

“We applaud the efforts of Highland Council to apply retrospective protection to the wider Culloden Battlefield as well as the support offered by the 1745 Association.

“Even if the Viewhill project goes ahead in the teeth of opposition, we hope enough has now been done to prevent the further encroachment we fear.”

Michael Nevin, chairman of the historical association, said the new application was a test of the new conservation area.

“We don’t want 16 bungalows built on land that we consider to be part of the battlefield. Many of our members consider it to be sacred land given the men on both sides who will have fallen there.

“What we would like as an association is for National Trust for Scotland to buy as much as the conservation area as possible.”

Kirkwood Homes has agreed to slightly lower the height of the homes in the development.

The firm will also buy the site once planning permission has been achieved, it has emerged.

Allan Rae, land director at Kirkwood Homes, said: “I can confirm that we have submitted two planning applications for consideration to Highland Council for the development of 16 homes and changes to the road and drainage system at the Viewfield site.

“The plans have been prepared in accordance with the conditions set out in the 2014 consent and following discussions with the council’s planning team. Some minor improvements to the access road layout and drainage have been made following discussions with the roads department and in response to technical feedback received from consultees.

“We are working closely with the planning department and relevant consultees as the plans are progressed through the planning appraisal process.”

No date has yet been set for the applications public hearing before councillors.