Judy Murray denied her profile is being “used” by developers behind a luxury housing scheme as she faced critics of her plan for a tennis and golf centre near her tennis star sons Andy and Jamie’s hometown of Dunblane.
At a public inquiry into the proposals yesterday, she admitted that former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie was no longer closely involved in the project after his “move from the area”.
Montgomerie, 52, was reported earlier this year to have been staying with his father in Ayrshire after the breakdown of his marriage to furniture company heiress Gaynor Knowles, with whom he lived in Perthshire.
Mrs Murray, 56, who had to miss being in New York to see Andy take on Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the US Open quarter-finals, told the inquiry of her plans for the centre, at Park of Keir, near the junction of the M9 and A9 outside Dunblane, that she would use it to train “an army” of coaches to teach a new generation of stars. She said that some existing tennis courts in the area were “like playing on a beach”.
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“For me, being a Dunblane person, when this site was mentioned and I went to have a look at it, it ticked all the boxes,” she said.
“It was right beside a busy main road and a roundabout and a perfect location for something that would deliver tennis on a big scale.”
She admitted she had been “approached” by developer Duncan King, who owned the site and already had planning permission for a hotel and golf course. She said she had commissioned a site search across Scotland for a location for her centre when Mr King got in touch.
She said she had realised a tennis centre on its own would not “stack up” financially, so it needed to be surrounded by and working with other sports and had to be built debt free, financed by housing.
“Because I am so passionate about growing tennis and make it available to everyone of any age and means it has to be accessible and affordable,” she said. “I didn’t want to build a commercial centre. If these facilities aren’t built debt free, they’ll have a millstone round their neck before they start.”
But in answer to questioning by Maurice O’Carroll, advocate for community group RAGE – Residents Against Green Belt Erosion – Mrs Murray admitted there was “no formal partnership” between herself, Montgomerie and the developers and that the inclusion of 19 luxury houses in the plan was “at the behest of Mr King”.
She admitted that Colin Montgomerie was now “a cheerleader from afar” for the project, and would not be appearing at the inquiry.
The inquiry, headed by a Reporter from the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division, is expected to last another week and a half. It follows rejection of the proposals by Stirling Council, the local planning authority for Dunblane, last year.