Ten­nis hub plan could be junked

Stirling Observer - - REMEMBRANCE DAY -

Dear Ed­i­tor Any­one who re­joiced at the news of the con­sent for Judy Murray’s ten­nis cen­tre should pre­pare to be dis­il­lu­sioned.

It is look­ing in­creas­ingly likely that she may never run a ten­nis cen­tre on Park of Keir.

The min­is­ters’ jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for giv­ing con­sent to build on Park of Keir is based on the ‘na­tional im­por­tance’ of a ten­nis cen­tre run by Judy Murray.

As­so­ci­ated ‘en­abling hous­ing’ was pre­sented by the de­vel­oper as the means to en­sure that the sports fa­cil­i­ties would be af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble to the gen­eral public. Nei­ther of these things can be en­forced by the plan­ning au­thor­ity.

The Reporter on the public in­quiry warned of this, and fore­see­ing the risks and pit­falls in this ap­peal rec­om­mended re­jec­tion. Min­is­ters chose to ig­nore him. They also chose to re­move the safe­guard he wanted re­quir­ing sports fa­cil­i­ties to be built be­fore hous­ing.

Dun­can King no longer needs Judy Murray. With her name on the ap­pli­ca­tion as a mem­ber of the ‘part­ner­ship’, he has got ev­ery­thing he wanted when he bought this site in the knowl­edge that hous­ing was not al­lowed. As was re­vealed at the public in­quiry, there was no such part­ner­ship and she has no le­gal agree­ment with him and this Gov­ern­ment is ap­par­ently will­ing to be party to this ar­range­ment.

We now have a sit­u­a­tion of a Gov­ern­ment seem­ingly in thrall to a ten­nis coach who has cul­ti­vated mi­nor celebrity sta­tus with a sus­tained PR cam­paign and on the back of her sons’ achieve­ments.

She has man­aged to con­vince min­is­ters that it is right to sac­ri­fice a pro­tected green belt for a de­vel­oper to build lux­ury houses in the hope that a ‘na­tion­ally im­por­tant’ ten­nis cen­tre will fol­low but with no guar­an­tee of any­thing ex­cept the hous­ing.

Min­is­ters as­sure us that they use their power to in­ter­vene spar­ingly but this is not the first case of its kind. This gov­ern­ment over­ruled more than 200 plan­ning de­ci­sions in sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances in 2016. It doesn’t say much for lo­cal democ­racy.

Frances Field­ing By email

Hear­ing Judy Murray at the Park of Keir public in­quiry

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