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26 May 2020

Renewed threat to Culloden Conservation Area

A large round stone cairn stands in the middle of a battlefield. Mountains and forests can be seen in the distance.
Culloden Battlefield
We’re opposing a new attempt to develop Treetops Stables, Faebuie, Culloden Moor as a holiday complex.

We opposed the original planning application back in May 2018, and the application was subsequently turned down by the Highland Council.

The Battle of Culloden ranged over a large area. We own a key part of the battlefield at Culloden but not the land on which the stables are built. Nevertheless, we’ve raised our voice in the past against developments that threatened the integrity of the wider historic battlefield.

The wider historic battlefield has Conservation Area status, applied by Highland Council. This was a protective measure put in place after the Scottish reporter overturned a decision by the council to refuse planning permission for a luxury housing development at nearby Viewhill Farm. This, as predicted, now represents an intrusive and unwelcome presence within prominent view of the main battle site.

The re-submitted proposal is based on the conversion of the Treetops equestrian centre, which has little intrusive impact as it currently exists. The proposal is for the construction of holiday, leisure and hospitality facilities.

Quote
“I can see nothing especially ‘new’ about this new submission.”
Clea Warner
General Manager for the Highlands & Islands, National Trust for Scotland

Clea continued: ‘The previous application was turned down by Highland Council because it wasn’t sufficiently sensitive to the surrounding woodland, and undermined the Conservation Area. While the 2020 application appears to suggest additional landscaping, quite frankly I can’t otherwise see much difference from the preceding 2018 submission.

‘The application mentions that about 13 accommodation units would be built, but references 16 elsewhere. By our calculations, assuming the holiday accommodation is all new floor space, the applicants seem to be proposing 994 square metres of new buildings. These 13 or 16 lodges would be raised up on stilts, close to two storeys in height, with each appearing to be about the size of a static caravan.

‘Our 2018 objection was based on four main issues: protection, conservation and, where appropriate, enhancement of the key historic landscape characteristics, particularly in the context of the Conservation Area; the scale of the development and its impact on woodland; the possibility of “development creep” changing current land use; and the possible precedent this would set, thereby encouraging more developers to try their luck. Nothing in this fresh application alleviates any of these concerns.

‘To be clear, we do not object to every planning application that comes forward around Culloden. Where changes to existing buildings or land do not result in a visual impact, change of use or materially extend the “footprint”, we tend not to have concerns. Unfortunately, in this case, from what we have seen, our objection would be fully justified.’

Culloden Battlefield with a rainbow forming over the top of the memorial cairn.
Culloden Battlefield today

The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and the last pitched battle fought on British soil. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by Government troops on Culloden Moor.

The National Trust for Scotland’s voice is vitally important in protecting Scotland’s heritage. Together, the places and objects in our care tell the stories of Scotland and the Scots, often with wide-ranging effects. Without our involvement, many of these places and things would have been lost forever to the damage caused by time, tide, climate and developers.

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