LEADING sporting bodies have backed plans for Scotland's first purpose-build tennis and golf centre as the development, spearheaded by Judy Murray and Colin Montgomerie, faces growing local opposition.

Hundreds of residents in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire and Dunblane, Perthshire, objected to plans for a leisure centre and housing development between the two towns. The Park of Keir development, just off the M9 and less than an hour's drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh, also includes 100 homes and a hotel.

The golf course, which would be used as a training ground for beginners in the sport, has already been scaled back from a nine-hole to a six-hole design, following concerns from nearby golf clubs in Bridge of Allan and Dunblane that the project might harm their membership.

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Objectors raised fears that the scheme will destroy the green belt between the two towns and create a sprawling development between Dunblane, where Mrs Murray raised her two tennis-playing sons, and Bridge of Allan, where she now lives.

Ann Shaw, of campaign group Residents Against Green Belt Erosion, said: "[Mrs Murray's] legacy looks like it will be that she destroyed the green belt between her home towns, taking away their identity and turning them into one big anonymous commuter town."

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), The Professional Golfers Association (PGA) and Tennis Scotland have all pledged support to the development in letters to Stirling council's planning authority.

Developers insisted concerns about "creepage" into green space were unfounded. Mrs Murray, Mr Montgomerie and the King Group said: "The impact of the proposed project on Park of Keir needs to be considered in context, given that only 15 per cent (40 acres) of the overall 282 acres will be utilised for the sport facilities, hotel and housing area.The remaining 240 acres will remain as green open space."