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Plan for family home near Culloden Battlefield to be called in by Scottish Government

By Neil MacPhail

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A CGI of what the development would look like.
A CGI of what the development would look like.

A NEW planning fight is kicking off on Culloden Battlefield after the Scottish Government intervened and “called in” an application to build a family home there.

The relatively rare step will mean re-examination by a planning reporter of the approval given by Highland Council in September.

Scottish Ministers say the review is “in view of the proposed development’s potential impact on Culloden, which is a nationally important battlefield”.

Local architect Mark Hornby and his wife want to convert a semi-derelict farm steading at Culchunaig into a family home, but the site is close to where the Jacobite front line was during the battle in 1746.

There has been growing anger nationally and worldwide about the increasing encroachment of building on the battlefield.

Protesters including the Group to Stop Development at Culloden (GSDC) were aggrieved that the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), who manage the battlefield, and Historic Environment Scotland (HES), who advise the Scottish government, did not object.

The application was approved in 2015 under delegated powers but permission lapsed and was resubmitted in September. Planning committee members were split on the application but moves to refuse permission were deemed out of order and it was approved.

GSDC social media organiser David Learmonth said: “We were astonished to see where this application was located.

“It’s very unusual that the government have picked up on this, especially as two major consultees, HES and the NTS, haven’t objected.

“I am very surprised and delighted to hear that the Scottish ministers have taken this decision.

“I think that in part, our writing to them after the committee approved the plan had some impact on this decision.”

Councillors Ken Gowans and Andrew Jarvie both welcomed the calling in.

Mr Gowans said: “Scottish Ministers have been criticised in the past for not acting on applications to build near the battlefield, but I think they should be applauded now. It is a significant step that they are looking at this application.”

Mr Jarvie said he was delighted at the move, as previously such applications were almost impossible to oppose.

Mr Hornby said he did not wish to comment further, but would let the planning process run its course.

A NTS spokesman said: “Our view was that this proposed re-development was mainly of an existing building and would not intrude on the battlefield.

“We do recognise that some degree of change and development will take place on the modern Culloden landscape and opposing all and everything would be counter-productive. We do raise our voice where development proposals unduly threaten the fabric and setting of the battlefield, as has been true in a number of recent cases.”

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