Public urged to lodge objections to four-star holiday village plans near Culloden

Map shows Culloden Muir conservation area

Controversial plans for a four-star holiday village and 100-seat restaurant near historic Culloden Battlefield are being opposed.

Campaigners say the site for the proposed development, which lies within the official battlefield conservation area, is essentially a war grave which should be protected.

They add that the location was reputedly where the Government troops “saddled up” just prior to going into battle against the Jacobite Army who were supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie’s claim to the throne back in 1746.

Developers are aiming to transform the former Treetops Riding Centre at Balloch into a visitor destination featuring 14 “high-quality” holiday lodges, a 100-seat restaurant, shop and cafe.

Site owners Inverness Paving, who say it could create up to 25 jobs, are lodging plans with Highland Council later this month.

But the Stop Development at Culloden Group (SDCG) is urging members of the public who are keen on preserving Scotland’s heritage to lodge objections.

Chairman George Kempik said: “This location lies within the inventory of the battlefield and is in the conservation zone.

“It is essentially a war grave. There could be bodies from the battle lying directly under this site.”

SDCG is still opposing plans for a 16-home scheme at nearby Viewhill Farm, where developers for that have lodged renewed plans with the local authority and will be debated this month.

Councillor Ken Gowans said: “This holiday village plan will be another very controversial application given its location.

“It forms part of the greater battlefield area and was reportedly where the Government cavalry saddled up in 1746 before the battle.”

A spokesman for the developers said: “The development will considerably improve and enhance its setting and the surrounding area.

“The site is completely invisible from the battlefield and sits within mature forested areas.

“In view of proximity, an archaeological survey was carried out over the pinewooded area – proposed for the new holiday lodges – and no historic artefacts, remains or indeed any item of note or interest, was discovered.

Louise MacDonald, a director at Inverness Paving, added: “The Treetops site is ideal, close to the city but in a beautiful forested location and with fine views to the north across the Moray Firth.

“Our aim is to create new leisure and holiday facilities of the highest quality as well as a new restaurant with unrivalled views over the Moray Firth but close enough to the city to make it an attractive destination for diners.”

If planning consent is granted the developers hope to be open to the public and guests next year.

Andrew Bruce, a director at architects HRI│Munro, said: “Treetops will create new, high quality facilities close to Inverness city which supports the growing tourist and visitor market.

“Architecturally the new and remodelled existing buildings have been designed as sustainable, environmentally friendly and visually integrated with their forest and woodland settings.”