Judy Murray plans to open a sports academy in Dunblane, with 12 tennis courts and a hotel
Residents have been left furious after the Scottish Government voted to allow Judy Murray to open a ‘world class’ sports academy in Dunblane complete with a ‘Murray Museum’ despite wide-spread opposition.
Ministers announced on Wednesday they had approved the British number one’s mother’s project for an academy, ‘in principle’, ignoring an official recommendation from a public inquiry that recommended refusal.
Opponents are meeting this evening to discuss the next steps after the controversial decision, and say they may stage a ‘funeral for democracy’.
The plans include 12 tennis courts, a golf academy, hotel, visitor centre, a ‘Murray’ museum and luxury homes, on a green field site beside the Park of Keir roundabout at the junction of the M9 and A9.
Mrs Murray, and Auchterarder-based developers the King Group, plan to make the facilities ‘pay and play’ rather than membership-based, and will fund them with the construction of the 19 ‘millionaire-sized’ homes and the 150-bedroom hotel.
But the plans have been opposed by an inquiry Reporter and by the Community Council, which is also considering its next steps.
The inquiry Reporter, Mr Tim Brian, said that he was ‘not persuaded’ of a ‘compelling local need for a new tennis complex at Park of Keir’, but Scottish local government minister Kevin Stewart overruled him saying Mrs Murray’s plans were of significant regional importance.
An artists impression of the plans for the academy, proposed for a greenfield site in Dunblane, which campaigners have been working to protect for three decades
Opponents, some of whom have been campaigning to protect the area for 30 years, have to start legal moves within six weeks, including any appeals to the Court of Session.
The inquiry was held into Stirling Council’s rejection of the scheme.
Ann Shaw, 65, a collective member of the pressure group RAGE – Residents Against Green Belt Erosion – said the idea of holding ‘a funeral cortege for democracy’ was one of several they would be considering, along with a march, or a mass picnic, while they waited for legal advice.
Under the ‘funeral’ plan, the cortege could process from Dunblane to the green fields of Park of Keir, carrying a coffin representing the public will.
Mrs Shaw said: ‘It’s important we keep this in the public eye.
The plans include a ‘Murray museum’ marking the achievements of Andy Murray, above, and his brother Jamie
‘The Reporter turned it down, and the Scottish Government overturned him. That’s a bonfire of democracy, a total farce, and we’re certainly not going to take it lying down.’
Mrs Shaw added that RAGE would be meeting local Greens MSP Mark Ruskell tomorrow.
Another member of the collective, Nick Pidgeon, said residents were ‘stunned’ by the result.
He said: ‘We won every battle – the community council, the planning authority, the eight-day inquiry – but we lost the war.
‘To use a tennis analogy, we played three sets, won three sets, but the umpire has awarded the match to our opponents.
Judy Murray, pictured with Andy in 2004, said she was thrilled by the decision
‘We will be looking at all the legal options.’
Inga Bullen, chair of RAGE, added: ‘It’s still early days. The Reporter’s report is 124 pages in itself, and we’ll have to study it carefully.’
The tennis and golf centre is billed as a ‘bricks and mortar legacy’ of Andy and Jamie Murray’s success and attracted high-profile backers including Sir Alex Ferguson and Colin Montgomerie.
It was rejected by Stirling Council in 2015 after more than 1,000 locals objected.
Objectors say it would threaten local pockets of red kites and migrating corncrakes, while a Stirling Council archaeologist warned of a ‘direct and negative impact on a series of known archaeological remains’.
The public inquiry was launched following an appeal by the developers.
Mrs Murray said on Wednesday that she was ‘thrilled’ by the decision, and ‘passionate’ about the opportunity ‘to create a brilliant community sports facility in our hometown of Dunblane [and] a lasting legacy from the successes of Jamie and Andy’.