Tayside and Central Scotland

Ministers to rule on Murray sports centre near Dunblane

Park of Keir Image copyright Park of Keir
Image caption The Park of Keir development has received support from high-profile sporting figures including Judy Murray and Colin Montgomerie

The fate of a proposed sports and housing development near Dunblane is to be decided by Scottish ministers.

High-profile backers of the £37.5m Park of Keir scheme include Judy Murray and golfer Colin Montgomerie.

The plan for tennis and golfing facilities as well as luxury homes was turned down by Stirling Council which received more than 1,000 objections.

The Scottish government said the potential benefits of the scheme were of "national importance".

Mark Ruskell, a Green councillor on Stirling Council, said the decision to reject the Park of Keir application was "democratic and based on agreed national and local planning policies".

He said the economic and tourism arguments in favour were weak and based on "fantastical visitor projections".

"There was no proposal to make Park of Keir the national centre for tennis and golf so I don't see the ministers reasons for citing 'national importance' in pulling the appeal in."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "Scottish ministers will make the final decision on the Park of Keir planning appeal as the proposed development's potential economic, tourism and sporting benefits are considered to be of sufficient national importance to merit further scrutiny."

The proposed development, between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, includes tennis and golf facilities along with a visitor centre and museum, set in a new country park.

'Sporting destination'

It also includes proposals for 19 luxury homes on land which is currently allocated as green belt in the local plan.

Stirling Council's planning and regulation panel rejected the planning application in December after receiving more than 1,000 objections and 45 notes of support.

The developers lodged an appeal with the Scottish government in March.

The appeal document said: "We consider that the net economic and social benefits of the amended proposals are significant and considerably outweigh any perceived local concerns over the scale or type of the enabling housing element or any environmental impact of the proposed development."

The document stated that the developers believed Stirling Council "erred in its policy assessment" by focusing on the "residential element instead of considering the development as a whole",

It added: "The development will provide a platform for the development of sporting talent, outreach to local schools and clubs, and high-quality coaching at all levels. It will be a 'sporting destination', attractive to local people and visitors to the Stirling area and Scotland."

Judy Murray has previously said she believed the proposed centre would be a legacy to the tennis achievements of her sons Andy and Jamie. Colin Montgomerie and former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson have also backed the development.

Mr Ruskell said: "It's quite clear the SNP government had discussions with Judy Murray about securing a 'tennis legacy' last December while Stirling Council was considering the application.

"I want to know whether those talks involved the first minister and whether there was any discussion about Park of Keir.

"If they did then ministers fingers should be nowhere near any appeal process."

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