Judy Murray: Plans to build tennis academy near home town of Dunblane rejected

Proposals would have seen a new tennis academy, golf course, four-star hotel, visitor centre, museum and 19 luxury houses

Chris Green
Scotland Editor
Tuesday 08 December 2015 18:18
A computer generated artist’s impression of the tennis/housing complex being backed by Judy Murray
A computer generated artist’s impression of the tennis/housing complex being backed by Judy Murray

It was supposed to be a multi-million pound legacy to the success of Andy and Jamie Murray, or as they were recently described by their mother Judy: “Two brothers from a small town that has no track record of tennis taking on the world and winning.”

But on 8 December, Britain’s most famous tennis family were on the end of a bitter defeat after local councillors rejected Mrs Murray’s ambitious plans for a new sports academy and luxury housing development, which she had hoped to build on protected land near their home town of Dunblane.

The proposals would have seen the creation of a new tennis academy, golf course, four-star hotel, visitor centre, museum and 19 luxury houses – all set in 100 acres of greenbelt land at Park of Keir, close to the town where the Murray brothers grew up.

Judy Murray. The proposed development was to be situated near the Murray family's home town of Dunblane (Getty)

The influence of the Murray family attracted the backing of several high profile sporting names, including golfer Colin Montgomerie and former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who wrote to the provost of Stirling Council last week encouraging it to make “the right decision”.

But the £70 million plans angered many in the local community, with some saying they did not want high-end housing built on local green space and fearing it would “set a precedent” for further development. The council received more than 1,000 objections to the scheme and only 45 in support.

Stirling’s planning and regulation panel dismissed the plans, which it said had been “carefully considered and discussed extensively”, by a majority of 5-3. Planning officials had earlier recommended that the proposals should be rejected because they did not include any affordable housing.

Mark Ruskell, a Scottish Green Party councillor for Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, spoke against the proposal at the hearing. “I’m delighted that this proposal has been rejected. It would have been totally wrong to rip up our democratically agreed local plan to make room for executive housing on this treasured greenbelt area,” he said.

“For over 25 years, local communities have fought against development at Park of Keir. Judy Murray had a good idea but it was in completely the wrong location – I’m sure that sporting legacy can be secured elsewhere.”

However, the battle for the future of Park of Keir may not be over. The development’s backers now have three months to appeal the council’s rejection of the plans, after which the ultimate decision over whether or not the project goes ahead could rest with the Scottish Government.

Mrs Murray previously said she hoped the development would become a lasting legacy to her two sons, who recently added a historic Davis Cup victory to their long list of achievements in tennis. “For us as a family, it is all about legacy of what Jamie and Andy have achieved throughout their careers,” she told the BBC.

Sir Alex, who regularly exchanges text messages with Andy Murray, praised the “amazing vision” of the tennis player’s mother in his letter to the council in support of the project. He argued that the new facilities would “help young people be active and love tennis with all of the passion that she does”.

Andy Murray also lent his support to the project on 7 December, telling his 3.4 million Twitter followers that it was a “massive opportunity for the community, for sport and for the next generation”. However, his intervention sparked a public spat between his mother and a local resident, who claimed it was “just a way in for housing developers”.

Reacting to the council’s ruling, a spokesman for the Park of Keir Partnership said: “We are obviously extremely disappointed by today’s decision. We felt we put forward a strong case for a sports facility of national significance. We want to take time to reflect on the decision today before deciding the next steps.”

The Murray property empire

Andy Murray owns a five-bedroom home in Oxshott, Surrey, which he bought for £5m in 2009 and shares with his wife Kim and their two dogs. He also has several apartments in Miami to use with his coaching team while training in the United States. In 2013 he spent almost £2m on Cromlix, a country house near his home town of Dunblane, which he has since converted into a five-star Scottish hotel.

Judy Murray bought Khyber House in Bridge of Allan, which is near Dunblane, for around £750,000 in 2012. The house, accessed by a sweeping driveway, is set in almost half an acre with stunning views over the Allan Glen.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in