Victory at last at new Battle of Culloden

Plans to stop Culloden Battlefield – a war grave for thousands of Jacobite soldiers – from being swamped by housing developments has been approved.

Plans to stop Culloden Battlefield – a war grave for thousands of Jacobite soldiers – from being swamped by housing developments has been approved.

A modern-day war at Culloden was launched after a 16-home development about 400 yards from the the official site was last year granted by the Scottish Government, despite worldwide objections.

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The 1746 battle covered a far greater area than where the official site, with an award-winning centre, is located.

Councillors have backed plans for an exclusion zone five times the size of the buffer currently protecting the battlefield.

They have approved a 2,423-acre exclusion zone, replacing the current 536-acre zone – effectively making it practically impossible for large-scale developers to build on a two-mile area surrounding the site.

It also means existing homeowners might will need to get planning permission for simple proposals such as erecting fences, altering window and doors, or even putting up a satellite dish.

The decision by the Inverness Area Committee, which still has to be ratified by the full council later this month, has been welcomed by conservationists.

Terry Levinthal, director of conservation at the National Trust for Scotland, which manages the battlefield, said: “This is very welcome news, providing much needed additional protection for Culloden Battlefield.

“This approach sensibly aligns the boundaries of the conservation area with what’s included in the inventory of historic battlefields, enabling much easier management and increased protection of the area for years to come.

“It is fantastic for the future of this heritage site which has international significance.”

Local SNP councillor Ken Gowans said: “I’m very happy. It’s been a long time coming and needed. It’s incumbent on us as a council to protect one of the nation’s most valuable assets.

“It’s of local, national and international importance.”

The new boundary will still allow small-scale developments, but end plans for any larger projects.

The row erupted last year when plans for a 16-home development at an old farm near to the site was granted by the Scottish Government, despite local objections. That project has still not gone ahead and a decision is expected soon on whether the developers will continue.

A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “A new conservation area for Culloden Muir near Inverness has been unanimously approved.

“This marks the final stages of the first formal review in 47 years to the existing conservation area of Culloden Battlefield which was first designated in 1968.
“Removal of the former - and adoption of the new conservation area for the Culloden Muir Conservation Area will now be publicly advertised and Scottish Ministers will be formally notified.

“The new designation now means that within the conservation area, planning permission will be required for a range of developments that would normally be permitted development under planning control including house extensions, satellite dishes, boundary enclosures such as walls and fences, and alteration to windows and doors.

“Substantial or total demolition of unlisted buildings within the conservation area will also require conservation area consent.

Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael said: “I am pleased that we now have a conservation and management plan in place that will help to protect one of our most valuable cultural and tourism assets in the Highlands – historic Culloden Battlefield.

“This will be a working plan that will help guide current and future planners in their decision-making. It will not be static as the Council has a duty to notify the public of any future proposals to preserve or enhance the conservation area.”

George Kempik, founder of campaign group Stop Development at Culloden, said: “It’s going to make it a lot more difficult for anything like that to happen again.

“Culloden Battlefield is famous all over the world and people everywhere were concerned at the Viewhill housing plans.

Culloden was the site of the last pitched battle on British soil. It was where Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender, and his Jacobite army were defeated by government forces on 16 April, 1746, ending his claim to the British throne – and costing more than 2,000 lives.