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National Trust welcomes Highland Council decision on Culloden planning application

By Louise Glen

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National Trust for Scotland celebrates Culloden decision
National Trust for Scotland celebrates Culloden decision

The National Trust for Scotland, which cares for and protects the ‘core’ segment of the Culloden battlefield has welcomed last night’s unanimous decision by Highland Councillors to reject a bid to convert Treetop Equestrian Centre into a holiday complex.

This was the second attempt by the applicant to gain permission for the scheme, which was previously rejected by councillors in May 2019.

The equestrian centre sits well within the boundary of the Conservation Area established by the local authority to protect the wider historic battlefield from inappropriate and ‘creeping’ development.

The Conservation Area was a reaction to Scottish Reporter’s decision to overturn a council decision to refuse planning permission for a housing development at nearby Viewhill Farm, which now “forms a real blot on the landscape, directly in line of site from the cairn in the middle of the battlefield.”

The Treetop proposal would have involved converting the small equestrian centre into a leisure resort incorporating 13 lodges built on stilts, a cafe, shop, laundry and restaurant.

In the course of the meeting of Highland Council’s south planning applications committee on the evening of December 8, councillors questioned all aspects of the application noting that the intention of the Conservation Area was to presume against all development unless conditions were met.

These conditions included a requirement that any new development re-used the existing footprint of buildings and the buildings themselves, or recreated existing buildings to appropriate traditional style. It was concluded that the application did none of these things.

Phil Long, the National Trust for Scotland’s Chief Executive said: “This is an excellent and wise decision by Highland Councillors and we commend them for it.

“The Treetop scheme was rejected once before and this latest application made no material change that would have lessened its baleful impact upon the wider historic battlefield within the Conservation Area.

“Through our Culloden 300 consultation, which received enormous public support, we’ve argued that the time has come to have a national conversation about Culloden if we are to cease the seemingly endless tide of speculative development applications. We have to come together and find a middle way that does not prevent reasonable and appropriate development while preserving the essence of this sacred, internationally important place.”

Highland Council: decision on Culloden
Highland Council: decision on Culloden

The Culloden 300 consultation was organised by the National Trust for Scotland and the outcomes revealed on July 23 of this year, on the 275th anniversary of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s arrival in Scotland which ignited the 1745 Jacobite uprising, which in turn reached its tragic conclusion on Culloden Moor on 16 April 1746.

3000 people took part online and in person in the consultation which was intended to establish how people wanted the battlefield to look in 2046, 300 years on from the conflict.

Of the participants, 68 per cent came from Scotland, showing a strong national concern for the future of the battlefield, with a significant response from the of the UK (11 per cent and the wider world (21 per cent).

Almost 40 per cent of respondents specifically highlighted the issue of development in the area of the battlefield, with many expressing concerns about its long-term impact.

The Culloden 300: Living With The Battlefield report is available at https://www.nts.org.uk/stories/public-plead-to-protect-culloden

Read related news:

Culloden Moor application refused by Highland Council

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