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Controversial plans to build £1 million holiday village on historic Culloden Moor rejected

David Meikle
David Meikle

Controversial plans to build a £1 million holiday village on historic Culloden Moor have been rejected by the Scottish government.

Developers had hoped to convert an equestrian centre at the site into a leisure facility with 13 lodges, a cafe, shop, and restaurant.

The scheme, submitted by Inverness Paving Ltd, had twice been rejected by Highland Council but an appeal was lodged with the government.

A reporter was appointed to assess the case had recommended giving the scheme approval subject to conditions.

But ministers have overruled his decision saying the impact on the battlefield and surrounding protected woodland would be detrimental.

One of the most important battles

According to historians, the site was the staging ground for government troops preparing to do battle against the Jacobite army in 1746.

The battle was a bloody defeat for the Jacobites and is one of the most important battles in the history of the British Isles.

The area has become increasingly popular thanks to the success of TV shows such as Outlander in which the battle plays a huge part in the story.

Culloden Battlefield is “a world famous site”

More than 300 objections to the project had been registered.

One said: “Culloden is a historic battlefield. There should be no question of building any kind of holiday homes and other related buildings.

“There should be no consideration of any kind of recreational building on that land. Why are any kind of requests even considered? The law should provide a barrier to this.”

Another added: “To continue to approve and allow development in and around the Culloden battlefield conservation area is a national outrage and embarrassment.

“This is a world famous site, not only as a battlefield but as a war grave.”

Culloden Battlefield

Appeal said project would boost jobs

An appeal document for Inverness Paving Ltd said the project could boost the local economy annually and create jobs.

It said: “The proposal is to create a high-quality tourism leisure facility, forest lodges and hospitality, in one of Scotland’s premier visitor destinations. Inverness is undersubscribed in high quality self-catering.

“The proposal would address an acknowledged market opportunity and =cntribute £1.47m and 62 jobs per annum to the regional economy.”

A letter rejecting the appeal said: “Ministers do not agree with the reporter’s view and conclusions that the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on Culloden Inventory Battlefield or on the character or appearance of the Culloden Muir Conservation Area.

“Ministers consider that the loss of protected woodland, together with the impacts on the historic environment assets of Culloden Inventory Battlefield and the Culloden Muir Conservation Area mean the proposed development is contrary to the development plan overall.”

Clea Warner, the National Trust for Scotland’s general manager for the Highlands & Islands said: “We welcome this decision by Scottish ministers and hope that it sets a precedent that helps to counter the continuing attempts to place inappropriate development on the wider historic battlefield.

“Ultimately, however, we think the only solution to securing the historic integrity of Culloden is for all relevant agencies to come together and agree upon a masterplan for its future.

“Consultation through our Culloden 300 initiative showed that this is exactly what the majority of people want to see happen.

“We are working hard on encouraging others to join us in making sure the right balance is found in meeting the needs of communities today without the damaging this landscape, which is such an important part of Scotland’s heritage.”

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