Personal suggestions by Princes Charles for street names in his Ayrshire eco-village development were rejected amid fears over sectarian connotations.
In a stand off which pitted the prince’s literary tastes against west of Scotland realpolitik, the majority of his proposals for the Knockroon development in East Ayrshire were snubbed by the representatives from the community.
Two potential street names drawn up by the prince were thrown out amid fears they might be seen to be linked with “sectarian concerns” and Rangers and Celtic football clubs.
Correspondence obtained by The Scotsman through Freedom of Information legislation shows that at a meeting of interested parties in the Knockroon project - a group including councillors, community councillors, housebuilders and the prince’s charity staff - Gowan’s Green was one of several names put forward by Charles that “received less favourable responses.”
An account of the meeting by Mark Greaves, Scottish programme manager of the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, noted that “it was suggested to avoid the use of colours ‘green’ or ‘blue’ in names due to associations with Celtic and Rangers football clubs and sectarian concerns.”
Another street name suggested by Charles, Greenmantle - named after John Buchan’s 1916 Richard Hannah thriller - was rejected for the same reason.
It was one of 17 names put forward by the prince for Knockroon. But just three were accepted by the local authority.
In a letter to Andrew Hamilton, the development director who helped Charles turn his Poundbury development in Dorset into a reality, Mr Greaves broke the bad news that the majority of the prince’s suggestions had been met with negative responses by members of the Knockroon Community Liaison Group
They included names such as Wandering Willie’s Wynd, Blind Harry’s Wynd, Shanter and Balwhidder Brae.
Other names, Mr Greaves explained, were “viewed either ambivalently or with a mixed response.” They included Tillietudlum (“attendees either loved it, or hated it; very little middle ground on this one,” Mr Greaves observed) and Ellangowan (“too ‘Ayrish’, though others thought it ‘sounds nice’.”)
Redgauntlet, another of Charles’s ideas, “did not generate much response either way,” Mr Greaves reflected, before adding: “Though one of the local members of a rather leftish persuasion appreciated the ‘red’ in it.”
Mr Greaves went on: “Many of the above were not viewed positively as concern was voiced that the names perhaps carried too strong associations with literary or historical figures or works and/or geographical references to areas out with the locale, eg Sir Walter Scott to the east coast of Scotland.”
In her letter to Mr Hamilton, sent two months after he relayed Charles’s vision for the street names, Fiona Lees, chief executive of East Ayrshire Council, sought to soften the blow that all but three had been snubbed.
She wrote: “I think it is important that I say at the outset how thrilled local people were to learn that His Royal Highness Prince Charles had taken the time to consider the matter personally.
“I am sure that it is because of His Royal Highness’s greatly appreciated engagement that local people and our elected members have taken the additional time to reflect on the proposals resulting in some very lively and creative discussions.”