Judy Murray has won an eight-year planning battle to build a £40m tennis and golf complex on the outskirts of Dunblane that she says will stand as a fitting legacy for her sons, tennis stars Andy and Jamie.
Earlier this week the Scottish government overturned a previous ruling by Stirling council, which had rejected the plans after more than 1,000 objections. Opponents argued that the complex – which will include 19 luxury homes, an 18-hole golf course and a four-star hotel – would destroy the rolling landscape and native woodland of Park of Keir.
Timothy Bain, who rules on appeals against planning authorities for Holyrood ministers, decided the benefits of the proposed scheme were sufficient to outweigh the loss of green belt land, concluding the tennis and golf centre in particular “would make an important contribution to the aim of increasing participation in both sports while providing facilities for the community. There will also be economic benefits, to the local area and more widely.”
As well as a tennis complex and a museum dedicated to the achievements of Sir Andy, the plans also include an 18-hole course designed by Colin Montgomerie, an 150-acre community park with woodland walks, a children’s adventure playground and an all-weather pitch for five-a-side football.
Welcoming the planner’s decision, Murray said: “We passionately believe that what we will create will not only serve as a legacy to the achievements of Jamie and Andy, but will be an important community asset that allows people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to enjoy for generations to come.
The partnership, which includes Murray, golfer Colin Montgomerie and local developers the King Group, argue the park is the ideal location to create “grassroots facilities which will make tennis, golf and many other sports accessible to all”. But local campaigners and community councillors have vowed to continue their fight to prevent building on greenbelt land.
Approval is subject to 22 conditions, including a proviso that the new houses can only be occupied once the tennis and golf centres are open to the public. The letter says this is to to ensure the homes are only built “as part of a comprehensive package of development and not independently”. A further condition limits the number of houses to 19 as the “absolute minimum” required to support the development.
Mark Ruskell, Scottish Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, is among those who oppose the plans. He said: “This is a decision that will destroy the historic landscape of Park of Keir that has existed for centuries.”
In a statement, Dunblane community council said the decision “ignores widespread local concerns and makes a mockery of the planning process”. Its chair, David Prescott, added: “This has taken eight years to get to the grant of planning in principle, which is only a step along the way. This has a long way to go yet.”