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Setback for Scottish tennis hub?

The team behind plans to build Scotland’s first purpose-built tennis and golf facility remain confident despite meeting opposition from the local planning office.

An application for planning permission for a new multi-sport hub at the Park of Keir was submitted to Stirling Council in July by partners Judy Murray, golfer Colin Montgomerie and King Group.

If built, the complex would feature six indoor and six outdoor tennis courts as well as a six-hole golf course with practice range and a 3G multi-sport all-weather pitch along with changing facilities, coaching suites and restaurant. It also includes plans for 100 luxury homes, a museum and hotel with conference facilities.

However, the scheme may not get the green light from Stirling Council’s planning officers, despite changes having been made to the original planning application following a series of consultations with key community stakeholders.

A 10-page report written by Claire Milne, principal planning officer at Stirling Council, expressed concerns at plans to sell some of the greenbelt land between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan to high-end builders to help fund the project, failing to meet the need for affordable housing.

There are also objections on environmental grounds, with the proposed land uses “contrary to local and national policy”.

However, the group behind the proposed development at Park of Keir is confident of addressing the concerns resulting in a successful application for planning permission.

“Park of Keir represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us to establish a grassroots golf and tennis facility of the highest standard that is open to all,” the group said in a statement. “Both Judy Murray and Colin Montgomerie are passionate about this project and the opportunity it presents to create a lasting sporting legacy for the benefit of families across Scotland.

“As part of any planning application process, it is normal practice for planning officers to review the application in relation to the council’s planning policy in the first instance. We plan to meet with the council’s planning officers to address a number of the comments in this report and we remain confident that our proposed development represents sufficient benefit to the people of the local area, and Scotland as a whole, to allow members of the planning committee to approve our application.”

The report comes as a setback for the project, which had received support from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), Tennis Scotland and the Professional Golfers Association (PGA).

In a letter to Stirling Council, Davis Cup captain Leon Smith said it was a “key time in Scotland to create sporting legacies” following the success of the Commonwealth Games and Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory in 2013.

“This tennis centre will create a special environment whereby both players and coaches can come together to learn from Judy and her coaching team and will greatly strengthen the likelihood of finding another Scottish Wimbledon champion in the future,” said Smith. “Judy is also passionate about the Stirling area as a whole and will be able to create very strong community links across the local clubs, schools and parks, generating much needed playing activity, and at the same time develop a stronger coaching workforce throughout the local area. Scottish tennis needs to continue to develop better players and coaches and this proposed tennis centre can be the leading programme in Scotland to deliver this.”

Speaking about the project earlier in the summer Judy Murray said: “It has always been my aim to create a real community hub that links with local clubs and schools to grow both tennis and golf which can nurture and develop Scotland’s most promising players and coaches. Park of Keir will make both sports more accessible and affordable for families, but especially for youngsters.”