Min­is­ters back Judy Mur­ray on sports cen­tre

● Coach wants to cre­ate a ‘legacy’ for sport­ing su­per­star sons ● Public in­quiry re­sult over­turned by Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By CA­TRI­ONA WEB­STER

A ten­nis and golf cen­tre cham­pi­oned by Judy Mur­ray has won the back­ing of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

The pro­posed devel­op­ment at Park of Keir be­tween Bridge of Al­lan and Dun­blane was re­jected by Stir­ling Council in De­cem­ber 2015, and a sub­se­quent ap­peal was dis­missed by a public in­quiry.

Min­is­ters in­tend to grant plan­ning per­mis­sion for the plans, which in­clude 12 ten­nis courts, a golf academy, a ho­tel and new homes.

Ms Mur­ray, mother of ten­nis stars Andy and Jamie, said she was “thrilled to bits” with the de­ci­sion.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has backed plans for a ten­nis and golf cen­tre cham­pi­oned by Judy Mur­ray de­spite the find­ings of a public in­quiry into the devel­op­ment.

Min­is­ters in­tend to grant plan­ning per­mis­sion in prin­ci­ple for the cen­tre at Park of Keir, be­tween Dun­blane and Bridge of Al­lan, in the face of a crit­i­cal re­port.

The pro­posal, for 12 ten­nis courts, a golf academy, ho­tel and new homes, at­tracted high-pro­file back­ers in­clud­ing Sir Alex Fer­gu­son and Colin Mont­gomerie.

The scheme was re­jected by Stir­ling Council in De­cem­ber 2015 but a public in­quiry was launched af­ter the de­vel­op­ers ap­pealed to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

The in­quiry was heard in Septem­ber by Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment-ap­pointed re­porter Ti­mothy Brian, who rec­om­mended the ap­peal be dis­missed.

In a re­port penned in De­cem­ber, he con­cluded that “a devel­op­ment of this scale… would se­ri­ously erode the green belt be­tween Dun­blane and Bridge of Al­lan, and have a sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive im­pact on its core func­tion to main­tain the sep­a­rate and dis­tinct iden­ti­ties of these towns and to pro­tect their land­scape set­tings”.

He added that the pro­pos­als “are con­trary to poli­cies which aim to pro­tect the green belt and spe­cial land­scapes, avoid in­ap­pro­pri­ate devel­op­ment in the coun­try­side, re­duce de­pen­dency on the pri­vate car and pro­mote sus­tain­able forms of devel­op­ment”.

Mr Brian con­cluded he was “not per­suaded that there is a com­pelling lo­cal need for a new ten­nis com­plex at Park of Keir” nor “that a na­tional cen­tre to de­velop coaches, train elite play­ers and host com­pe­ti­tions would be best de­vel­oped in­a­coun­tryside­lo­ca­tion­away from Scot­land’s main cen­tres of pop­u­la­tion”.

In their de­ci­sion, Scot­tish min­is­ters said they “do not sup­port the re­porter’s rec­om­men­da­tion to refuse this ap­peal”.

But lo­cal gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Kevin Ste­wart said: “I have con­cluded that the devel­op­ment is of sig­nif­i­cant re­gional and na­tional sig­nif­i­cance.

“It will bring strong ben­e­fits to Scot­tish sport, help­ing in the devel­op­ment of elite com­peti­tors, while also pro­vid­ing fa­cil­i­ties for the com­mu­nity.

“There will also be eco­nomic ben­e­fits, both to the lo­cal area and more widely.

“The next step is for the plan­ning au­thor­ity and de­vel­oper to work to­gether to agree to dis­charge the plan­ning obli­ga­tion.

“Once Scot­tish min­is­ters are sat­is­fied, they will then be able to for­mally grant plan­ning per­mis­sion for the pro­posal.”

The con­di­tions in­clude a com­mit­ment from the de­vel­oper to con­tribute to af­ford­able hous­ing and ed­u­ca­tion in the area, an agree­ment that no fur­ther hous­ing will be built on the site and that the sports fa­cil­i­ties are af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble to the gen­eral public.

Ms Mur­ray has said she wanted to cre­ate a legacy to the suc­cess of her ten­nis sons Andy and Jamie, but the devel­op­ment at­tracted more than 1,000 let­ters of ob­jec­tion.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell, who rep­re­sents Mid Scot­land and Fife, said he was “bit­terly dis­ap­pointed” with the de­ci­sion.

“For 30 years com­mu­ni­ties have suc­cess­fully fought to pro­tect this pre­cious land­scape from prop­erty de­velop-

“I’m pas­sion­ate about cre­at­ing a legacy from the suc­cesses of Jamie and Andy, and about get­ting more peo­ple play­ing and teach­ing sport”


ers, it’s to­tally un­suit­able for hous­ing, but lo­cal plans and the con­clu­sions of a lengthy public in­quiry have been ripped up by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment,” he said. “The pro­posal will not make Park of Keir a na­tional cen­tre for ten­nis or golf, it’s about as far Judy Mur­ray, left, coach­ing young­sters at ten­nis, is keen to see her plans for the Park of Keir site, above, de­vel­oped, cre­at­ing a legacy for her sons and a Scot­tish cen­tre of sport­ing ex­cel­lence away from de­prived com­mu­ni­ties who need lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties as you can get. This de­ci­sion has more to do with ap­peas­ing celebri­ties and de­vel­op­ers with deep pock­ets than se­cur­ing a sport­ing legacy.”

Ms Mur­ray said: “I am thrilled to bits about this de­ci­sion and the op­por­tu­nity it gives us to cre­ate a bril­liant com­mu­nity sports fa­cil­ity in our home­town of Dun­blane.

“I’m pas­sion­ate about cre­at­ing a last­ing legacy from the suc­cesses of Jamie and Andy, and about get­ting more peo­ple play­ing and teach­ing sport. I want Scot­land to be a health­ier and more ac­tive na­tion, and I can’t wait to start de­vel­op­ing the plans with the lo­cal com­mu­nity and gov­ern­ing bod­ies.”

Al­ston Birnie, of de­vel­oper King Group, added: “I am very pleased that af­ter many years of pre­sent­ing the case for this im­por­tant devel­op­ment, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment have de­cided to ap­prove our plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion at Park of Keir and we can now get on with de­liv­er­ing an ex­cit­ing legacy to the achieve­ments of the Mur­ray fam­ily and at the same time cre­ate a tremen­dous com­mu­nity fa­cil­ity that will be of ben­e­fit to both young peo­ple and fam­i­lies from all over Scot­land for many gen­er­a­tions to come.

“King Group look for­ward to work­ing with Judy Mur­ray to bring these ex­cit­ing plans to life. We be­lieve the pro­posed sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties at Park of Keir will also po­ten­tial pro­vide the Stir­ling area with an ad­di­tional in­ter­na­tional tourism des­ti­na­tion that will cre­ate many jobs and gen­er­ate valu­able ad­di­tional in­come for the lo­cal area for the fu­ture”

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