Tennis hub plan could be junked
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