Planning & Environment

Designation of land as a battlefield could affect rights to develop land over substantial areas of Scotland, including a number of large settlements. The new statutory designation was created by the Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2011 section 11, but its importance can be seen in the consultation on amendments to the General Permitted Development Order (which Neil has recently commented on).

The policy behind the listing of battlefields is to protect sites of national importance. Historic Scotland is a statutory consultee for an application in a battlefield. It is proposed that a number of the new permitted development rights will be excluded within a designated battlefield:

  • creation of hard surfaces in caravan sites and in the curtilage of an industrial building,
  • extension of class 1 or class 2 premises, of an office building, school, college or nursing home
  • installation, alteration etc. of an electrical outlet and upstand for recharging electric vehicles and
  • erection of an access ramp

Where permitted development rights are excluded, it is likely a planning application will be required for these developments, in most cases accompanied by the revised fee (a minimum of £500).

Protecting historic battlefields from inappropriate development is undoubtedly a good thing. The problem is that the designations that have been made so far seek to capture the wider area of the battlefield, and are often extensive:

  • Dunbar 1650 (Cromwell v Scots) includes a large part of the east and south of Dunbar town, the Oxwellmains waste disposal site, and the Spott Road Asda;
  • Prestonpans 1745 (Jacobites v Hanoverians) includes most of Prestonpans, Cockenzie, Port Seton and Tranent and the whole of the Blindwells development site;
  • Pinkie 1547 (Scots v English – the “rough wooing”) includes most of Musselburgh.

And that’s just East Lothian. Falkirk, Bothwell, Linlithgow, Kilsyth and Alford , as well as other settlements, are partly within battlefield sites. Historic Scotland is considering adding Langside to the inventory, which would cover a chunk of southern Glasgow between Pollockshaws and Rutherglen.

Since the proposed new PD rights are generally for relatively minor development, their exclusion can seem disproportionate: e.g. within a battlefield, a formal planning application may be required for installation of an electric vehicle charging point in an existing supermarket car park.

The exclusion of PD rights is currently limited to the proposed new rights. However, this would seem to set a precedent for exclusion of other existing PD rights, e.g. for the construction of agricultural buildings, for erection of micro generating equipment or for the enlargement of a dwellinghouse.

I’ve written previously about the minimal notice provided for designation of a conservation area. No notice or consultation is required for the listing of a battlefield, except after the event. Perhaps members of the public ought to have more of an opportunity to have a say on a designation likely to limit their rights.

Planning & Environment