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Prince Charles 'intervened in Highlands planning row'

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Prince Charles intervened in a planning row in Scotland on behalf of pensioners battling the local council to protect their views of Ben Nevis, it has been reported

According to The Scotsman, the heir to the throne become involved in a planning dispute over an 18m-high sports hall being built at the new £7million Gaelic Primary School for Fort William after being approached by 86-year-old pensioner Betty Cameron.

Cameron sought help from Prince Charles on behalf of a group of pensioners opposing the construction of the new hall which they say has obliterated their views of the UK’s highest mountain. The pensioners claim that the council had failed to send out consultation letters regarding the new scheme, which began construction earlier this year.

The local council was accused of failing to follow proper planning procedures by failing to inform local residents of the scale of the new sports hall. The design for the hall, along with a new primary school on the site south east of Birth Road was drawn up by the council’s own housing and property service. A community petition objecting to the project gathered more than 700 signatures.

In a letter to Cameron from Clarence House marked ‘private and confidential’ the Prince, who holds the official title of the Duke of Rothesay, promised to make enquiries regarding the situation.

The message from the Prince’s private secretary, which has been revealed by Cameron, said: ‘I am afraid to say that, generally speaking, planning issues of this kind are not areas in which his Royal Highness can become involved. However, I will make enquires of Highland Council and will write back.’

A following letter in September said: ‘I have been in touch with Highland Council, and have received assurances that the matters you and others have raised in relation to the new Gaelic Primary in Caol, have now been fully investigated and responded to.

‘I understand that Caol Community Council has been invited to be involved in the Liaison Group and I can only hope that you and others in the local community are feeling more confident about the project.’

However Cameron beleives, the Council ‘hoodwinked’ the heir to the throne into believing the community had been properly engaged in the new scheme.

Speaking to The Scotsman Cameron said: ‘The council have tried to pull the wool over his eyes. There is still a lot of discontent here. There seems to be endless meetings being held with local councillors and site managers and so on coming up with things to lessen the effect of the building such as putting in high level glazing, but then it all just falls on stony ground.

‘Highland Council don’t seem to understand that we are meant to have a democratic process in this country.’

The revelation of Prince Charle’s involvement in the planning row comes as the decision over whether to release a number of controversial letters from Prince Charles to government ministers dubbed ‘the black spider memo’s’ reached the Supreme Court.

A spokeswoman for Highland Council, commenting on the letters sent by Prince Charles to the council, said: ‘Any correspondence from the Duke of Rothesay [Prince Charles] is private and confidential.’

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