AFTER four-and-a-half years and £450,000 just to get to this point, the relief amongst the Murray clan and the wider Scottish tennis fraternity was palpable when the news came through on Wednesday that government ministers had given the green light to Judy Murray’s plan for a multi-million pound world class tennis and golf facility on the Park of Keir site near Dunblane. 

While vehement opponents to the development vowed to fight on - Ann Shaw, former chairman of the group Rage (Residents Against Green Belt Erosion”, said they would consider applying for a judicial review, while representatives of the Green Party were also furious – the sense within the sport was that this could be a game changer for tennis in this country and there was no further time to waste. 

Indeed, had the plan not been rejected by Stirling Council’s planning department back in December 2015, the tennis facilities on the site could already have been operational by now.

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Those who dismissed the scheme as celebrity driven and a “vanity project” perhaps forget the former Fed Cup captain’s pledge to making the centre available and affordable for community use while no-one has been more committed to growing this sport at grassroots level.

“This is absolutely fantastic news,” said Leon Smith, Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain. “The centre will provide a base from which a true legacy can be built.”

The long-awaited decision, which will go at least some way to alleviate the fears of Judy and others that Scotland has failed to build on her sons’ decade-long prominence, came almost an entire year since Andy Murray had taken a personal interest in the public enquiry into the scheme, sitting unobtrusively as an interested spectator at the back of the hall, and nine months since the government’s planning reporter had concluded it was in the wrong location, would be accessed by “unsustainable” modes of travel and did not conform to the local development plan. 

Kevin Stewart, the minister for Local Government and Housing, said ministers were now backing the project, subject to certain conditions, because it was “of significant regional and national significance”. In addition to 12 indoor and outdoor tennis courts, the development includes a golf academy, a hotel, a visitor centre, 19 luxury homes and a “Murray” museum. 

These conditions include a requirement the centre is built and available for use before the housing is occupied, with any further housing on the site banned and the developer committed to making contributions to affordable housing and education.