Culloden homes to get fresh hearing after vote “mistake”

The new homes will sit around half-a-mile from the core battlefield at Culloden. PIC: Flickr/.Creative Commons/Herbert Frank.
The new homes will sit around half-a-mile from the core battlefield at Culloden. PIC: Flickr/.Creative Commons/Herbert Frank.
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Controversial plans to build 16 homes next to Culloden Moor will be given a fresh hearing after councillors apparently voted through the development “by mistake”.

The planning application will be referred to a second committee after confusion dogged a vote at Highland Council on Tuesday.

Developers were given permission by the Scottish Government’s planning reporter in 2014 to build the homes around a half a mile north of the core Culloden battlefield with some experts claiming the land is effectively a war grave.

Councillors in Inverness were yesterday asked to agree amendments to the original plan for the site at Viewhill Farm or reject the design of the properties.

The application was voted through - although two SNP councillors now believe they voted the wrong way after a mix up at committee.

Councillor Andrew Jarvie (Conservative) has gathered enough support to send the application to the Environment, Development and Infrastructure committee for a new hearing.

This will put a halt to any work at the site until the matter was looked at again.

Councillor Jarvie said: “I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed that an error led to the wrong outcome.

“Unfortunately, referring the application to another committee does not carry forward the feeling of the south planning committee to refuse the application but it is the best chance we have to go through it again and get the right decision.”

Vice chair of the south planning committee, Carolyn Caddick, said only one councillor misunderstood the vote with the error not enough to change the outcome of the meeting.

Councillor Jarvie earlier argued that the plan for the homes did not meet directives laid down in the Culloden Muir Conservation Area.

Viewhill Farm was included in the enlarged in conservation area to reflect is significance of the location during the Battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746.

Councillor Jarvie said the council now had no power to reject the housing scheme outright but could only ensure that the buildings were sensitive to the site.

It is believed government lines extended to the area, with Dr Chris Duffy, and expert in the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, claiming that a large volume of casualties would have fallen at the farm towards the end of the battle.

The application was originally rejected by Highland Council members in 2011 but approved on appeal by the Scottish Government planning reporter.

Dr Duffy has claimed the planning reporter received incorrect information on the battlefield geography ahead of his decision.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Decisions on applications for planning permission are primarily a matter for councils as the planning authority, in this case Highland Council. It would not be appropriate to comment on a live application.

“The reporter considered a wide range of evidence before making a decision in 2014, which is final and there is no opportunity for Ministers to revisit that decision.”