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9 Dec 2020

Scotland’s largest conservation charity welcomes decision on Culloden planning application

A line of red flags stand on a vast and empty moor.
Culloden Battlefield
The National Trust for Scotland, which cares for and protects the ‘core’ segment of Culloden Battlefield, has welcomed last night’s unanimous decision by Highland Council to reject a bid to convert Treetop Equestrian Centre into a holiday complex.

This was the second attempt by the applicant to gain permission for the scheme, which was previously rejected by councillors in May 2019. The equestrian centre sits well within the boundary of the Conservation Area established by the local authority to protect the wider historic battlefield from inappropriate and ‘creeping’ development. The Conservation Area was a reaction to the Scottish Reporter’s decision to overturn a council ruling to refuse planning permission for a housing development at nearby Viewhill Farm, which now ‘forms a real blot on the landscape, directly in line of site from the cairn in the middle of the battlefield’.

The Treetop proposal would have involved converting the small equestrian centre into a leisure resort incorporating 13 lodges built on stilts, a café, shop, laundry and restaurant.

During Highland Council’s South Planning Applications Committee meeting on 8 December, councillors questioned all aspects of the application, noting that the intention of the Conservation Area was to presume against all development unless particular conditions are met. These conditions include a requirement that any new development reuses the existing footprint of buildings and the buildings themselves, or re-create existing buildings to an appropriate traditional style. They concluded that the application did none of these things.

“This is an excellent and wise decision by Highland Councillors and we commend them for it.”
Phil Long
Chief Executive, National Trust for Scotland

Phil continued: ‘The Treetop scheme was rejected once before and this latest application made no material change that would have lessened its baleful impact upon the wider historic battlefield within the Conservation Area.

‘Through our Culloden 300 consultation, which received enormous public support, we’ve argued that the time has come to have a national conversation about Culloden if we are to cease the seemingly endless tide of speculative development applications. We have to come together and find a middle way that does not prevent reasonable and appropriate development while preserving the essence of this sacred, internationally important place.’

The Culloden 300 consultation was organised by the National Trust for Scotland and the outcomes revealed on 23 July this year, on the 275th anniversary of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s arrival in Scotland which ignited the 1745 Jacobite uprising, which in turn reached its tragic conclusion on Culloden Moor on 16 April 1746.

Some 3,000 people took part in the consultation, online and in person, which was intended to establish how people wanted the battlefield to look in 2046, 300 years on from the conflict.

Of the participants, 68% came from Scotland, showing a strong national concern for the future of the battlefield, with a significant response from the rest of the UK (11%) and the wider world (21%).

Almost 40% of respondents specifically highlighted the issue of development in the area of the battlefield, with many expressing concerns about its long-term impact.

Find out more about Culloden 300: Living with the Battlefield

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