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All the planning updates and details of any forthcoming community events will be published here providing you with quick access to the latest information.

Reporters appointed

Reporters were appointed by the Scottish Government in February 2024. In explaining the process to be followed from now on, the Reporter’s representative advised:

“We are currently processing all documentation provided by the authority, upon completion of this the reporters will advise which method is most suitable to determine the case. Cases can be considered by oral process, by the consideration of written evidence or by a combination of the two. It is likely that the reporters will arrange a virtual pre-examination meeting (PEM) to discuss this, which you will be invited to attend. All interested parties will get the chance to ‘opt-in’ to provide further responses.

Until we have the case complete, we will not have a target date but for oral processes as a method of determination including hearings and inquiries, it’s 32 weeks.”

C4C will welcome the opportunity to make our case for approval and to address the misinformation being peddled by those that oppose our application.

This page will be updated regularly with further details as our planning process progresses.

9 February 2024

Planning Application ‘called in’

Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, Scottish Ministers have decided to call in our application for further consideration. The Scottish Ministers have taken this decision “in view of the proposed development’s potential impact on nationally and internationally important natural heritage assets and the need for an appropriate understanding of the scale and degree of potential economic benefits arising from the proposal.”

In due course, Reporters will be appointed to assess our application in detail and then decide on the future process that will be applied, which at this stage is unknown but may involve a private hearing or a full public inquiry.

29 January 2024

Planning Application referred to Scottish Ministers

Our application has now been referred to Scottish Ministers

6 December 2023

Planning Application approved by Highland Council

Despite a factually incorrect report being presented by the Highland Council’s Area Planning Manager, which recommended that our application be refused, the good sense of the Councillors on the North Planning Applications Committee prevailed and our application was approved. We are delighted with this outcome, however, due to an objection from NatureScot, a statutory consultee, our application must now be referred to Scottish Ministers for their consideration. Once that has happened, we will know the outcome of their deliberations within 28 days.

8 February 2023

Planning Application submitted

We are delighted to confirm that C4C’s formal Planning Application has been submitted to The Highland Council. The planning reference number for it is: 23/00580/FUL

C4C first went through “Screening” and “Scoping” stages with The Highland Council – and the responses to these helped develop our plans for the course.

C4C then completed a 12-week consultation period, which ended on 11th September 2022, after which we were free to submit our formal application.

This application was sent to the Council in February 2023 and comments on the application by interested parties were invited by the Highland Council.

We await the decision of the Highland Council’s Planning Committee.

9 September 2022

Responses to questions asked at the Coul Links Consultative Webinar

Thank you to those that joined us at our recent webinar on 30 August 2022. We hope you found it useful and helpful in your understanding of the proposed 18 hole golf course to be developed on a part of Coul Links.

This community consultation was part of the statutory planning process and provides us as applicants together with our team of consultants, to address, where appropriate, the points you raised.

We received some 22 questions and comments, some raising issues with the use of the site given its status as a SSSI and others seeking information on the methodology of construction, use of the course and its impact on the local economy.

Some of your queries will be addressed in the Environmental Impact Assessment that will accompany the planning application.

We have summarised the questions into categories where questions cover similar topics, and as confirmed at our Webinar, we provide the following response and clarification.

  1. NatureScot Management Plan – there is indeed a management plan in place. This is funded by the public purse and is limited in scope. It is concentrating on addressing some of the areas of gorse, birch scrub and bracken. The action so far has had limited success: gorse cut back is already regenerating, birch scrub has been left in situ and is decomposing creating humus and debris that is altering the sandy environment. Bracken treatment is ongoing at present but the extent and spread of this invasive species is a major task in its own right.The proposed course will provide scope for the long term management of the SSSI providing opportunities to significantly improve on the current situation and at no financial cost to the public. We will work closely with NatureScot in achieving the long term management of the area.
  2. The course will be of championship standard. The proposed mowing of the fairways in particular addresses many of the concerns of the earlier proposal. This is a tried and tested practice and successful on course such as Machrihanish, also within a SSSI. Mowing fairways is historically appropriate. The vegetation adapts to being mown and very many of the championship courses were designed this way historically including Royal Dornoch. We have designed the course in the full knowledge that all fairways and paths will be mown. Only tees and greens will involve new grassed areas. Modern equipment can now deal with the varied landforms and vegetation and does not pose a particular issue for us. Indeed we see the dune slacks as natural hazards although most will be avoided.
  3. Reference has been made to hole 11 and the water table. The proposed tee and green will not be underwater at any point. Temporary boardwalks are proposed to guide golfers across the course and these will be removed during the winter months when the course is out of play.
  4. The course will be available for all to play. We intend to have variable fees, favouring local fees for local players.
  5. Pesticides will not be used on the course. Herbicides are already in use by NatureScot and identified in their Management Plan. We will work closely with NatureScot and any use of herbicides if considered necessary.
  6. The EIA will include a detailed section on coastal geomorphology and the dynamics of the area adjacent to the dune system extending along the Embo section of the SSSI. There is no reason to assume that there is an issue with coastal erosion. The course development footprint does not extend to the coastal dune system in any event.
  7. We are confident that there is and will be sufficient accommodation options throughout the Dornoch Firth area and beyond to accommodate all golfers wishing to play Coul Links. The short term let control proposal does not restrict tourist facilities but will enable more appropriate management through the planning and licensing system.
  8. There are plans to create a significant number of new affordable homes within the area both to buy and rent. This is separate from the golf course proposal and will be the subject of further applications, in discussion with the landowner, in due course. There are many other communities within easy commuting distance of Coul Links where properties are available and more affordable.

The detailed planning application will be accompanied by a new EIA , technical information and socio economic evidence all to support our proposal. We have a team of specialist consultants working for us to deliver a comprehensive planning application.

19 June 2022

Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) submitted to Highland Council

This represents a key stage in a major planning application.