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Highland Council's move to allow new build on Culloden Battlefield over-turned

By Scott Maclennan

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Culloden Battle field social
Culloden Battle field social

Scottish Ministers have overturned a Highland Council decision to allow a new farmhouse to be built near Culloden battlefield after the decision was called-in due to “potential impact on a historic battlefield of national significance.”

The application for planning permission for a new build home near Kings Stable's Cottage was made at the end of February 2020 and about a month later Highland Council gave the go-ahead despite widespread discontent with development around the site.

But the application was subject to notification to Scottish Ministers and in April of this year the application was called-in due to “the proposed development’s potential impact on a historic battlefield of national significance.”


That meant a Scottish reporter would look at the case and pay a site visit to examine in detail the application and whether it contravened in planning laws – the result is that it did and permission has now been refused.

Mr C Wares and Mrs D Wares had sought to build a four-bedroom single storey house with a double garage on part of a 25.62 hectares site that is currently agricultural land, which the applicants purchased in 2015.

But the site is located within the Culloden Battlefield – the area known as the ‘greater’ battlefield site’ not just the best known NTS-run area – and that is included in the “nationally important” Inventory of Historic Battlefields.

In assessing the application, Scottish Ministers agreed with the reporter’s findings that the main considerations in deciding this application are:

  • the operational need for the proposed farmhouse;
  • its impact on the Culloden Battlefield; and
  • its impact on the Culloden Muir Conservation Area.

It failed on all three grounds, first on ‘operation need’ – the reporter stated bluntly: “A dwelling here cannot be justified because it can be regarded as essential for a non-viable enterprise [the farm].”

On the issue of the impact on the battlefield, the reporter found: “The proposed house would intrude very much at close quarters into a view towards the Jacobite lines. Jacobite soldiers may well have approached the battle, and fled from it, through this area.

“Screening the house from there would also involve screening the view of the battlefield. The Scottish Ministers agree that the policy test is a severe one, and the application project does not meet it.”

Finally, it is important to bear “in mind the historic character of the area” when considering whether or not the project would or would not “preserve or enhance the character of the conservation area.”

The assessment was clear that Scottish Ministers agreed with the reporter “that the proposed development would not preserve or enhance the character of the conservation area. The Scottish Ministers agree with the reporter’s overall findings that the proposal does not accord with the relevant provisions of the development plan.”

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