Published: 10/03/2018 19:00 - Updated: 09/03/2018 13:40

New rallying cry against battlefield homes plan

Written byDonna MacAllister


Ready for battle: Protestors in traditional Highland dress.

PLANS are brewing for another public protest outside Highland Council headquarters in opposition to a controversial 16-home housing development close to Culloden Battlefield.

Moves are afoot to stage the event on Tuesday when councillors are recommended to approve the design of the houses being built by Aberdeen-shire-based Kirkwood Homes on the historic site.

George Kempick, founder of the Stop the Development at Culloden campaign group, has sent out a rallying call to all 5376 Facebook members asking as many as possible to turn up at the council’s Glenurquhart Road base to take another stand against the scheme, given its proximity to the historic battlefield.

It comes just weeks after a similar protest outside the council’s chamber.

Mr Kempick said: "We won’t be happy with any housing design because we want to see no houses there.

"We’re just trying to raise the profile as much as possible and hoping the Scottish Government will intervene."

The scheme at Viewhill, Balloch, secured planning permission on a Scottish Government appeal in 2014.

The developers are now seeking consent for the layout and design of the 16 houses.

Revised designs being presented to councillors on Tuesday outline several changes to their original plan.

The developers made the amendments after the committee rejected plans for the housing designs in January.

The new adjustments include plans to finish six of the 16 houses with natural stone cladding, instead of timber.

There are also plans to increase the amount of natural stone walls, add chimneys, put in natural stone walling and seating to the communal courtyard and add pitched porch features to some of the homes.

Inverness South councillor Ken Gowans described it as a "cheap fix".

"It doesn’t go far enough," he said. "This development is in a conservation area and the guidance says houses should be finished in suitable materials.

"Of course it costs a lot more to do that so I think Kirkwood Homes have tried to do a cheap fix and I think it is very disrespectful to the committee."

A spokeswoman for National Trust for Scotland, which owns part of the battlefield, said: "We said then that this was the wrong decision and in the aftermath many thousands of people in Scotland and internationally agreed.

"Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any way of preventing this development and our focus now is on mitigating its impact on the battlefield.

"We appreciate the council’s efforts to make the plans more suitable for this high-profile location and are pleased that with the widening of the conservation area, there should be fewer threats like this affecting the area in future.

"This episode highlights concerns about the planning system’s failure to protect sites which have huge importance to Scotland’s culture. This is an issue which the Trust has been highlighting for years now and we are focusing on influencing the development of future policy.

"We are contributing fully to the Scottish Government’s current Planning Bill consultation and will have the opportunity to brief the Scottish Parliament on the issue. We hope our input will help ensure the planning system gives Scotland’s beautiful and historically important places the protection they deserve."

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