ONE of Scotland’s most prominent Green Party politicians yesterday condemned Judy Murray’s plans for a multi million pound tennis and golf centre in the countryside near Andy and Jamie’s home town of Dunblane.
MSP Mark Ruskell said the proposal - for a 12-court indoor and outdoor tennis centre, trainer golf course, “Murray” museum, and country park, funded by 19 “millionaire-sized” homes and a 150-bedroom hotel, gym and spa - was “not sustainable”.
It’s an important local landscape area it its own right, multifaceted and ever changing when viewed from surrounding locations with a rolling patchwork of habitats and features including ancient woodland.Mark Ruskell
Mr Ruskell, who is also a local councillor for Dunblane and the neighbouring town of Bridge of Allan, said the tennis academy itself “may be a good idea but it is in completely the wrong location”.
The MSP, the Greens’ spokesperson on Climate, Energy, Environment, Food and Farming, said Judy’s plans would be “a permanent suburbanisation of a designed landscape which forms a strong part of the identity and sense of place of both Dunblane and Bridge of Allan”.
He said the development - which would be built on “much treasured” green fields at Park of Keir, near the junction of the M9 and A9 at Keir Roundabout, Dunblane - would “represent an irrevocable change to the form and function of the Green Belt between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan that will degrade the area for future generations”.
He said neither would the proposal be “low carbon”, with a hoped for 270,000 visitors a year, the vast majority coming by car.
He added: “Park of Keir frames the landscape of Stirling and the wooded hills form the gateway as travellers rise up from the carse lands towards the Highland landscapes beyond.
“It’s an important local landscape area it its own right, multifaceted and ever changing when viewed from surrounding locations with a rolling patchwork of habitats and features including ancient woodland.
“This proposal, in this location is inherently unsustainable; it does not reflect either existing or emerging policy and has at best a tenuous link with local sporting and economic ambitions.
“Moreover it represents a permanent change in the nature and function of this land that has helped formed the identity of Dunblane, Bridge of Allan and the wider Stirling area for generations.
“Out of any available site in Scotland that could be realistically considered for a development such as this, Park of Keir would be one of the most controversial.”
In answer to questioning, Mr Ruskell denied that the issue was “just a cause celebre for the Green Party”.
In an earlier exchange, objector’s solicitor Colin Innes compared the planned Murray tennis centre to a Nazi prisoner of war camp.
Mr Innes, representing an adjacent landowner, said it would be would be “lit up like Stalag 17” - the fictional camp in the 1953 Billy Wilder movie, starring William Holden.
Planning consultant John Handley, for the developers, said the area was already lit up by the motorway lights of the nearby Keir Roundabout.
He said: “The buildings will be lit up at night, yes. For the prominence, you have to take into account the baseline conditions.”
Mr Innes said: “This proposal is the absolute antitheses of what is appropriate in the Green Belt.”
Mr Handley replied: “I can’t agree with that.”
The inquiry, which is being held following rejection of Mrs Murray’s proposals by Stirling Council last year, continues.