Auction sale of part of Culloden Woods sparks community fear over development

The Inverness to Perth railway line from the Culloden Wood bridge, Inverness.
The Inverness to Perth railway line from the Culloden Wood bridge, Inverness.

A stretch of woodland in Culloden less than a mile from the battlefield site is for sale by auction, sparking fears in local communities that the wood might be snapped up by developers.

An 11-acre section of Culloden Woods around the Moray Park housing estate, is for sale by auction, due to go under the hammer at Future Auctions in Edinburgh on August 1.

The auctioneers describe it as ‘a very rare and unique opportunity to purchase Culloden Woodlands with a global reputation. Around one mile as the crow flies from the battlefield of Culloden makes this the ideal investment opportunity. Excellent capital growth potential. Development potential subject to planning permissions and title obligation.’

The guide price is £44,000, and the identity of the seller is being kept under wraps.

David McGrath, chairman of Smithton and Culloden community council says that it would make sense for the local communities to buy it, but time is too short to raise the necessary funds.

He said he was sceptical about the intentions around the sale and feared potential developers might be eyeing up the area.

“It would be a difficult site to get through Highland Council but developers might chance their arm, it’s happened before.”

Meanwhile Mr McGrath has been taking steps to find out if there is the possibility of a community buy-out.

He said: “We only heard about it by word of mouth last week, and although I started making inquiries about a potential community buy-out, we couldn’t do anything in time for the August 1 sale deadline.

“I’ve also taken steps to find out if we can have the lot withdrawn from the auction.”

Future Auctions said yesterday this was unlikely to happen as the sale was on a “commercial basis”.

Mr McGrath said the community council was determined to protect Culloden Woods in general as public open space and amenity land and had submitted its views as part of the ongoing Inner Moray Firth Local Plan review.

He said: “The woods contain a number of core paths regularly used for leisure and exercise by the community at large.

“There are a number of historic features within the woods, including the Clootie Well, the Prisoners’ Stone from 1746 battle of Culloden, the grave site and ruin of the tomb of Forbes of Culloden.

“Also there are a lot of water courses draining the area to the south of Lochlan and Moray park which at present is subject to major flood mitigation work funded by Highland council, caused by previous over development in this district.”