Nov 20 2009 by Alison Anderson, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
THE quest to establish Kinross at the heart of curling in Scotland cleared a major hurdle this week when outline plans to erect a National Curling Academy were unanimously approved.
The new “world-class” facility at The Muirs, to replace and improve upon the ageing curling rink at the Green Hotel, will include a six-sheet ice rink, bar, cafe and changing facilities, a curling museum and offices for the sport’s national governing body, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC).
Kinross Curling Trust lodged the planning application to build the new ice rink on just over one hectare of open space owned by Kinross Estates.
The location on the prominent area of open space adjacent to the road in to Kinross from Milnathort had caused controversy, with objectors citing over-development of the site, loss of amenity space, loss of trees and inappropriate location among the eight letters of representation received by the planning authority.
But a welter of support, including the RCCC, stressed the significance to Kinross and to the curling in Scotland of establishing the national academy at the preferred location.
It was explained to councillors that a number of centres in Scotland had bid to become home to the prestigious new venue, but Kinross was selected, not only because of its central location and good road links, but also because of its traditional historic links with the sport – Kinross is reputedly home to the oldest curling club in the world.
While it was intended to benefit Scotland as a curling nation, the RCCC also stressed that the new rink would safeguard the sport for the estimated 1000 local curlers.
A spokesman for Aberdeen-based architects, Archial, told the Council’s development control committee that the Kinross Curling Trust had examined a number of sites in Kinross, but concluded the site at The Muirs was “a more superior site”.
“This is going to be a world-class facility and a very positive contribution to Kinross, Scotland and beyond,” he said.
Details of the design and layout of the ice rink and landscaping have still to be lodged, but the spokesman pledged that mature trees on the site “would be respected”.
Also speaking in support of the application was Paul Kyle from the Council’s economic development unit, who outlined the benefits of establishing the curling academy in Kinross, including the creation of job opportunities.
And he warned against delaying the application: “Other bidders are still interested and watching what happens.
“Other sites (in Kinross) may take considerably longer to come forward and we would have to ask if SportScotland and the RCCC would be prepared to wait or would reconsider the location for the curling academy.”
A motion to approve The Muirs site was led by development control convener Willie Wilson: “Obviously this is a major application in terms of Kinross and Perth and Kinross; equally so, it’s a sensitive site and has the potential to affect the setting of a number of areas, including the bowling green, golf club and surrounding houses.
“On balance I consider it to be appropriate to approve with the additional condition that appropriate mitigation measures are taken to protect the residential amenity of Woodlands (a house adjacent to the development site).”
Councillor Wilson also called on the Kinross Curling Trustees to embark on a detailed consultation exercise with local residents as soon as possible.
He was seconded by Councillor Sandy Miller.