House to be build on ancient battlefield near Inverurie

Plans to build a new house on a historic 15th Century Aberdeenshire battlefield have been backed by councillors.
The Battle of Harlaw is commemorated with a large monument at the site of the battlefield near Inverurie.The Battle of Harlaw is commemorated with a large monument at the site of the battlefield near Inverurie.
The Battle of Harlaw is commemorated with a large monument at the site of the battlefield near Inverurie.

Apex Homes had applied to the local authority in a bid to get planning permission in principle for the house at Wester Harlaw near Inverurie.

The site is located on the grounds of the 15th Century Battle of Harlaw, and sits near the C-listed Harlaw House. It is also close to the Liggar’s Stone, a memorial installed to mark the location of burials related to the battle.

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Back in July 1411, Donald, Lord of the Isles advanced on Aberdeen with a 10,000 strong army.

They met another force, led by the Earl of Mar, at Harlaw and a brutal battle ensued.

It is believed that around 1,000 Highlanders and 600 north-east soldiers lost their lives following the fight, which was later given the nickname “Red Harlaw”.

Eight objections against the plan were received from residents and the Scottish Battlefields Trust.

Writing on behalf of the battlefield charity, Dr Arran Johnston said the new house would adversely impact the historic ground.

He added: “Whilst there has been some limited development within the battlefield, this serves to heighten the importance of restricting any increase of development and population density within the designated landscape’s sensitive areas.”

Resident Emma Shovlin said it was a “totally inappropriate place to develop” and that it “rides roughshod over our history”.

While James Macdonald noted the battlefield site was of national significance and added: “We do not wish to see our ancestor’s graves being upset by further redevelopment.”

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Isla Maitland also argued against the proposal: “I feel very strongly about protecting such areas from pointless development. Surely there are many more suitable sites.”

Further concerns were also raised about road safety along with the loss of agricultural land and overdevelopment of the area.

Inverurie Community Council voiced opposition to the plan too.

They said the development would have an impact on the listed Harlaw House and the “vital” archaeological site.

Meanwhile, the council’s archaeology team objected as they believed it would “clearly alter the character and setting of the battle landscape”.

Taking this feedback on board, council planners recommended the house plan be scrapped, stating that it didn’t meet the recently approved Local Development Plan.

But Historic Environment Scotland gave their support to the application saying it would be “unlikely” to have an impact on the characteristics of the battlefield.

The application went before the Garioch area committee last month but members agreed to carry out a site visit first before making a final decision.

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Members met again at Gordon House in Inverurie last week to consider the plan for a second time.

And despite the backlash, councillors suggested it be given the go-ahead.

East Garioch councillor Dominic Lonchay said: “If we want to consider potential or existing historic sites then we are going to restrict ourselves with very little land to develop.

“There is already an existing cluster of dwellings so it would make sense for this application to be granted.”

Fellow ward member, councillor Jim Gifford, asked for a delegated grant as he believed it was a “good use of the site”.

He explained: “The design is yet to come forward in detail but it sits nicely within a cohesive settlement of existing properties, some going back a long time.”

But Aberdeenshire Provost, councillor Judy Whyte urged the committee to stick with the officer recommendation to refuse it.

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