Tennis legend Billie Jean King says controversial Park of Keir plans would cement Andy Murray's legacy

-Credit: (Image: Stirling Observer)
-Credit: (Image: Stirling Observer)


Tennis legend Billie Jean King insists the best legacy for Sir Andy Murray would be for the controversial tennis centre proposed at Park of Keir to be built.

With Andy having now played Wimbledon for the final time, the countdown is now on to his retirement from competition ... with the forthcoming Olympics expected to be his final appearance.

Murray was honoured by the All England Club last Thursday with an emotional tribute after defeat in the men’s doubles with brother Jamie.

Although there has been talk of a statue being built in the grounds of the club, attention has also turned closer to his Dunblane home - with Billie Jean posting a video to social media to give her backing to the completion of the proposed tennis centre at Park of Keir, between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan.

The project includes a new tennis and golf centre, including museum and visitor centre, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, golf course with clubhouse and practice areas, hotel with leisure and conference facilities, and a multi-use sports pitch.

It also includes an outdoor play area, cycle trails and footpaths, new access roads and junction, new tree planting and landscaping, car parking and an enabling 19-plot housing development.

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Andy’s mum, tennis coach Judy Murray, won a planning battle to build the tennis and golf complex at the end of 2021, but has continued to face opposition from local campaigners and community councillors who have fought to preserve the greenbelt site.

Sir Andy Murray -Credit:Getty Images
Sir Andy Murray -Credit:Getty Images

Billie Jean said: “So Andy Murray recently announced that he will be retiring this year after an amazing career that has brought creditability and excitement to British tennis.

“And everyone is asking what his legacy should be? I am hearing talk of a statue at the All England Club, which of course would be very fitting.

“But shouldn’t it be the community tennis centre that he and his family are trying to build outside their home town in Dunblane?

Tennis legend Billie Jean King says the proposed development would be a fitting legacy for Andy Murray -Credit:Getty Images for CMT
Tennis legend Billie Jean King says the proposed development would be a fitting legacy for Andy Murray -Credit:Getty Images for CMT

“A pay-to-play multi-sports centre, run as a charitable trust, aiming to make tennis affordable, accessible and fun for all.

“Surely creating a base in Scotland where Andy, Jamie and Judy can give back to their sport, by doing what they do brilliantly – developing and inspiring the next generation of players and coaches – is the best legacy for them.

“Let’s hope the Scottish Government and the powers that be in British tennis can help get this over the line and soon. So, come on! Let’s go for it!”

While her comments drew a flood of supportive comments for the venture from across the world, it also drew criticism from some critics of the scheme closer to home.

One posted: “Billie Jean King and other commentators do not live at Park of Keir or Dunblane and have no idea about the local politics around this proposal. Billie Jean King needs to fully understand the proposal and that Park of Keir is precious green belt land.

“The tennis academy could be built elsewhere. This proposal is romantic nonsense.”

In 2021, Scottish ministers concluded that the benefits of the Park of Keir Partners plan for the land between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan had been “sufficient to outweigh the loss of greenbelt at this location”.

Judy Murray won a planning battle to build the tennis and golf complex at the end of 2021 -Credit:Getty Images
Judy Murray won a planning battle to build the tennis and golf complex at the end of 2021 -Credit:Getty Images

The initial application had been rejected by councillors eight years ago after the submission of more than 1000 objections following an appeal and public local inquiry, Scottish ministers called the application in.

A Notice of Intention to approve the development was issued in 2017, pending a Section 75 agreement between the applicant and Stirling Council.

That agreement was finally signed in summer 2020 following a number of extensions.

In summer 2021 opponents RAGE organised ‘an 11th hour’ petition containing more than 1500 signatures, however Ministers granted approval.

The campaign group has continued to protest against the plans and have questioned their economic viability and funding.

However, in 2022 a spokesperson for Park of Keir said: “We have said many times in response to RAGE that we will publish our plans when we are ready to do so and that remains our plan.

“Our plan is an exciting, community-minded one that aims to provide access to sport and leisure facilities to all. We still think that’s a good thing.”