Andy Murray Cromlix House plans hit heritage snag

Cromlix House Hotel. Picture: PA
Cromlix House Hotel. Picture: PA
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ANDY Murray’s new hotel has hit a snag after conservation groups raised concerns about his refurbishment plans.

The tennis ace bought Cromlix House in Kinbuck, five miles from his home town of Dunblane, Stirlingshire, in February for £1.9 million.

The world No 2 tennis star wants to transform the 15-bedroom property into a five-star hotel, creating 40 jobs.

However, plans to relocate a historic 400-year-old stone sundial and gate posts which sit in the hotel’s grounds have attracted the attention of heritage groups.

Historic Scotland have said they are “disappointed” with the lack of detail in a planning application submitted to Stirling Council.

They said the structures are of “national significance” and have asked for a report from a stone expert before giving their approval to the plans.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland have also said that by law they have a right to inspect the site for at least three months before work on moving the pieces can go ahead.

Stirling Council is set to rule on whether the renovations can go ahead next month and work was expected to start within weeks.

However, the interventions could see delays in the timescale for work in the grounds.

In a letter to the local authority, Simon Montgomery, a senior heritage management officer at Historic Scotland, said: “We appreciate that there is a significant urgency to getting this venture up and running as soon as possible and we hope we can be of assistance in resolving any significant planning issues quickly.

“We are therefore rather disappointed to see that the drawings for this application really appear to be drawings for the new access and car parking which therefore simply act as a location plan in our view.

“We would really be seeking a report from a stone conservator with experience in conserving the likes of ancient carved stones and memorials which confirms that dismantling and rebuilding will be possible without causing damage to them and the specification and new location will ensure their long-term future is secured.

“The stones are A-listed which identifies them as being of national signifigance and therefore we feel it is reasonable to ask for this information despite the tight timescale of the development.”

The sundial was put up at the hotel around 1920 and used to stand near Dunblane’s old police station.

The sundial and the gateposts are to be moved to make way for new parking facilities at the hotel.

Murray also wants to build a new tennis court and conservatory at the site.

Hotel group Inverlochy Castle Management International (ICMI) will manage Cromlix House on behalf of Murray.

It is hoped the Victorian property, where Murray’s older brother Jamie married Alejandra Gutierrez in 2010, will be open in by April next year.

Norbert Lieder, managing director of ICMI, said: “Cromlix has been unoccupied for over a year and the building and grounds are in need of investment.

“The refurbishment plans proposed by the Murray family aims to preserve the historical structure of the hotel while creating an exclusive five-star 15-room hotel that brings significant benefit to the local community.

“Our planning application includes a proposal to reconfigure the entrance and parking to allow for anticipated customer demand.

“As part of this we propose moving the listed sundial and gate piers elsewhere on the property, where they can continue to be enjoyed by customers and the community.

“Our plans have not received any formal objections and we hope to work closely with both Historic Scotland and The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) to ensure we satisfy their requirements.”

Last month, Murray’s grandmother said she was overjoyed the tennis star would re-open the hotel, because it has played a big part in their family life.

Shirley Erskine said: “I think it’s great that Andy is back making links with his hometown.

“We had our silver wedding anniversary at Cromlix way back when it first opened as a hotel and my husband Roy was the optician in the town. We went back and we had our golden wedding there too. Then Jamie got married there.

“Even now we walk our dog in the grounds to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. It’s a vast estate on our doorstep, and you just feel away from it all.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think it would be in the family. It’s lovely. We have so many happy memories of the hotel. Now I’m sure there will be many more.”

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