PLANS to stop Culloden Battlefield – a war grave for thousands of Jacobite soldiers – from being swamped by developments have been drawn up by planners.
Highland Council officials are proposing a larger conservation zone, which stretches almost two miles around the historic site on the outskirts of Inverness.
The move comes amid claims the current protection area is out of date and as campaigners continue fighting a controversial housing development at Viewhill Farm, only 400 metres from the battlefield. More than 16,000 people from around the world have signed a petition opposing the 16-home plan.
If councillors back the new plans, future housebuilding projects effectively would be banned, while existing homeowners might need to get planning permission for simple proposals such as erecting fences, altering window and doors, or even putting up a satellite dish.
George Kempik, founder of campaign group Stop Development at Culloden, said: “I don’t think it’s going to do our battle regarding Viewhill Farm any particular benefit at all, but clearly it’s a good thing because if it gets approved 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.
“We are delighted that the old conservation area is now considered out of date and is planned to be extended.”
The National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which manages the battlefield and runs the visitor centre which attracts thousands of tourists from around the globe each year, expressed fears the Viewhill development would damage the setting on Drumossie Moor and set back archaeological research.
A spokesman said: “We welcome the council’s attempt to increase the protection for the area. Hopefully it will prevent the situation we had at Viewhill arising again.”
The NTS has been in discussions with the owner of the farm and is interested in buying the land to prevent it from being developed, but the spokesman said an agreement had not been reached and it was reviewing its “next course of action”.
David Sutherland, the owner of Viewhill, said: “We are working through a series of planning conditions with Highland Council regarding our housing application. We’ve had very positive dialogue with the NTS, although following a change in personnel there, things have gone rather quiet.”
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.
Councillors will discuss the new plans for Culloden next week.
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