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19 Jun 2024

The Trust opposes proposed development at Bannockburn Battlefield

Written by Paul Williams
A statue of a man on a horse sits on top of a plinth in a diamond with a path leading up to it and grass and trees on either side.
The Robert the Bruce statue at Bannockburn
The Trust is calling for the Scottish Government to intervene to stop a damaging new development on land of the historic and internationally important Bannockburn Battlefield.

The Trust has submitted a letter opposing a proposed trotting track on the land west of New Line Road and south of Fairhill Road at the Whins of Milton site on the nationally designated Battlefield of Bannockburn. The development risks further damage to the iconic historic landscape and setting surrounding the battlefield, which will have a detrimental impact on one of the most pivotal places in Scotland’s history.

Our letter to Stirling Council’s planning department strongly objects to this planning application due to its adverse effect on the nationally and internationally important heritage site of the nationally designated Battlefield of Bannockburn, the A-listed monuments on the site and the visitor experience.

The Trust has managed Bannockburn Battlefield since 1943, and is committed to its long-term care and protection to ensure access and enjoyment of this special place for everyone. The Bannockburn visitor centre, a beacon of historical education, currently draws in thousands of national and international visitors and dedicated school visits. The proposed development not only jeopardizes internationally significant heritage but also threatens to alter the experience of the site for current and future generations.

Stuart Brooks, the Trust’s Director of Conservation & Policy said: ‘We are extremely disappointed that Stirling Council planning department is considering the proposal for a trotting track at the Whins of Milton site on the nationally designated Battlefield of Bannockburn, and in the single remaining fragment that allows us to understand how the battle unfolded. We are calling for the Scottish Government to pull this planning application to ensure the future of this historic battlefield for the benefit of future generations.’

“Bannockburn is much more than just a battlefield. It is the location of one of the most pivotal moments in Scottish history when Robert the Bruce, King of Scots defeated the English army led by King Edward II. The landscape surrounding the battlefield was instrumental in helping Robert’s men beat their English rivals and ensuring the nation’s future.”
Stuart Brooks
Director of Conservation & Policy
A photo of the upper half of a man out on a mountain. He has short brown hair and is wearing a grey fleece jacket with a rucksack.

Stuart continued: ‘The location of the proposed development at Whins of Milton is in the vicinity of where Bruce’s army faced off against the vanguard of Edward’s army on the first day of the battle. It is close to Foot o Green Farm, where the famous duel between Bruce and De Bohun is said to have taken place. Milton Bog formed a defensive screen for the western flank of Bruce’s army on Borestone Brae that would’ve assisted the Scotsmen in securing victory against Edward and his men.

‘Over previous decades, much of the historic setting has been lost, and we are deeply concerned about any new development that would encroach on this and further erode and degrade this iconic landscape. We are calling for the Scottish Government to step in and save Bannockburn Battlefield from this proposal to ensure the longevity of a site steeped in Scottish history.’

The Trust’s specific grounds for objection are outlined in its letter to Stirling Council’s Planning Department. These include the impact on the designated historic Battlefield, the visual impact, transport impact, and noise pollution.

The rotunda at Bannockburn at sunset. The sky is a bright orange to the left, with dark blue clouds to the right. Trees stand silhouetted beside the rotunda and flag pole.
Bannockburn at sunset

Impact on the designated historic Battlefield: The proposed development would destroy one of the few remaining undeveloped areas of the designated historic Battlefield (first designated in 2012), including ground breaking access roads, track surfaces, concrete pads, and foundations. We consider this level of loss at a nationally and internationally important Battlefield to be unacceptable.

Visual impact: The proposal would see one of the last green wedges disappear from Stirling. Currently, the agricultural use of the land means the Battlefield can be seen in context from the Rotunda, looking out to the fields and then hills. The proposed development would seal in the visitor centre, Rotunda and monuments, greatly reducing the sense of place and quality of experience.

Transport impact: The application proposes to turn part of the designated Battlefield into car parking for over 200 cars. The creation of new accesses to serve the proposed site could cause issues for road users. The Drummond Black Consulting Road Safety Audit identifies a number of issues, including an elevated risk of collision on the main road. For the National Trust for Scotland, we would take issue with a development that could potentially put residents and visitors at risk.

Noise pollution: The proposal is for regular races to be run using amplified public address systems and crowd noise immediately adjacent to the historic Battlefield. Bannockburn Battlefield is a place of pilgrimage for many and a site where visitors seek to again experience the sense of place of this climatic battle. Noise disturbance from the racetrack during events will greatly detract from this experience.

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