Culloden housing plans to return to councillors after vote mix-up

The homes are planned for a site within the boundary of the Culloden (Battlefield) Conservation Area

Plans to build 16 homes on a site within the boundary of the Culloden (Battlefield) Conservation Area are to be brought back before the local authority after it emerged councillors apparently voted through the development “by mistake”.

Amended plans by Kirkwood Homes for the design and layout of the homes were given the green light on Tuesday by Highland Council’s south planning applications committee by five votes to three.

However two SNP councillors now believe they voted the wrong way after a mix up at committee.

Inverness South councillor Andrew Jarvie proposed a motion for a further redesign of the homes to be carried out, which was supported by Ron MacWilliam.

Committee chairman Jimmy Gray then proposed an amendment that would pass the application, backed by vice chairwoman Carolyn Caddick.

But there was apparent confusion between the motion and amendment, and the vote passed five to three.

One councillor, who did not want to be named, told the Press & Journal: “I voted the wrong way and I believe that one other councillor voted the wrong way.

“I know of two other councillors who were not entitled to vote – but if they had been permitted then they would also have voted the wrong way.

“It has been a mix-up as far as democratic desire goes and it was officially the wrong decision, so it definitely needs to be looked at.

“I believe there could well have been enough votes to alter the decision in terms of Andrew Jarvie’s motion and, yes, that would be to reject the design.

“I think it was a mistake – there is enough doubt about this decision to invoke procedures to amend the voting.”

With so few members involved in the decision, the two mistakes proved to be enough to swing the outcome to a redesign.

Councillor Jarvie has now gathered enough support to send the application to the environment, development and infrastructure committee for a new hearing.

The move will put a halt to any work at the site until the matter was looked at again.

Councillor Jarvie said: “I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed that an error led to the wrong outcome.

“Unfortunately, referring the application to another committee does not carry forward the feeling of the south planning committee to refuse the application but it is the best chance we have to go through it again and get the right decision.”

Vice chair of the south planning committee, Carolyn Caddick, said only one councillor misunderstood the vote with the error not enough to change the outcome of the meeting.

The housing plan has been fraught since first being granted permission in 2014 by the Scottish Government on appeal after being turned down by the Highland Council.

Campaigners maintain that the site at Viewhill Farm encompasses part of the battlefield and as such should be respected as a war grave, claims denied by the owner and developer.

A group set up to protect the area had hoped the committee would give archaeologists a chance to examine the location before making a decision.

The site is about half a mile from the location of the battle, fought between Jacobite and government forces in April 1746, and the Group to Stop Development at Culloden have argued that the fighting took place in a much wider area than what is regarded as the battle’s location.

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