Campaigners celebrate 'momentous turnaround' as Culloden Battlefield house rejected by Scottish Ministers

Campaigners are celebrating after Scottish Ministers made the ‘uprecedented’ move to stop a house being built on Culloden Battlefield.

It comes after the Scottish Government took the unusual step of refusing a decision by the Planning Reporter, who recommended that a luxury steading conversion at Culchunaig could be built.

The contentious site sits close to the south west perimeter of the section of battlefield owned by National Trust for Scotland and within the historic battlefield boundary.

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Scottish Ministers have now refused planning permission after disagreeing with a number of points made by the Planning Reporter.

Scottish Ministers have thrown out proposals to build a luxury home close to the permimeter of the section of Culloden Battlefield owned by National Trust for Scotland. PIC: Mike Peel/CC.
Scottish Ministers have thrown out proposals to build a luxury home close to the permimeter of the section of Culloden Battlefield owned by National Trust for Scotland. PIC: Mike Peel/CC.

The development would have a “surbanising effect” on the landscape with the site highly sensitive to development due to the “national historic significance” of the battlefield, ministers found.

Dr David Learmonth, of the Group to Stop Development at Culloden, which campaigned for the government to intervene, said it “warmly welcomed” the decision and the “momentous turnaround of events”.

Dr Learmonth said: “This is a momentous turnaround of events, and one that we sincerely hope marks a new dawn for the protection of the battlefield especially with still four live applications awaiting determination, including a holiday resort.”

He praised all those who objected to the plans for the new home, which featured a hot tub, zen garden, fire pit and gaming and chill out zone, and thanked Professor Christopher Duffy and Andrew Grant McKenzie of the Historians’ Council on Culloden who researched the significance of the Culchunaig site.

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Dr Duffy earlier described the development plans as an “appalling intrusion on this national war grave”.

The Culchunaig area saw 'major action' on the Jacobite right wing during the battle in April 1746 and was the scene of the last fight of 'legendary' Culloden hero Gillies MacBain, who led the Mackenzies on the field and single-handedly killed 13 government soldiers.

Neither Historic Environment Scotland or National Trust for Scotland objected to the plans.

HES said that the new home would not significantly change the character of this part of the battlefield while NTS said that the development of an existing rundown steading could be appropriate, provided a number of historical assessments were carried out.

However, Scottish Ministers said that the development, which included three new outbuildings and space for six vehicles, represented an “overdevelopment of the site in what is a very sensitive part of Culloden Battlefield”.

The decision letter added: “However Ministers consider the redevelopment of this site, as proposed, would have an unacceptable suburbanising effect upon the existing countryside near to the core of Culloden Battlefield.

"Ministers consider that the area has high sensitivity to all types of development due to the national historic significance and cultural associations of

the battlefield.

"Ministers consider that the Proposed Development would result in cumulative negative visual and landscape impacts upon the local character of this

part of the battlefield and would have an adverse effect on the character and appearance of the Culloden Muir Conservation Area."

An earlier application for Culchunaig was approved by Highland Council with the local authority minded to grant the second application.

GSDC campaigned for the second application to be called-in by the Scottish Government.

The Planning Reporter then recommended that planning permission be granted but this was overturned by Scottish Ministers, with that decision final.

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