gWest owner breaks silence on Scotland's "ghost course"

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A member of the family that owns the gWest International Resort next door to Gleneagles has pledged that the development and its long-completed golf course will be finished properly one day – but only when they decide the time is right

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s “The Patch” programme, Mohsin Al-Tajir explained how the economic downturn had impacted upon plans for the luxury resort, first unveiled in 2007.

An ultra-exclusive, private community in the heart of Perthshire, close to the Highland Spring water business owned by the family, the estate was originally intended to occupy more than 620 acres of the countryside, and extend 2.3 miles from east to west.

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The grand centerpiece of it, an 18-hole championship golf course – built for the use and pleasure of the estate’s property owners and their guests, and designed by Scottish course architect David McLay-Kidd – was completed in 2009.

An elaborate clubhouse, built in the style of Mereworth Castle, a Grade I listed Palladian country house in Kent, designed by 18th century Scottish architect Colen Campbell and also owned by the Al-Tajir family, was finished in 2012.

However, further development has stalled as a result of political and economic instability in the UK over the last decade or so: the global economic downturn, the Scottish independence referendum, the EU referendum and renewed calls for a second vote on Scotland becoming an independent country.

Speaking to the Radio 4 show, Mohsin Al-Tajir revealed that the continued uncertainty was putting the family off investing further in gWest.

“When the economic picks up in Scotland and we can see what’s happening in the future, we’ll develop it properly,” he said. “At the moment, we’re sitting [still]. Brexit’s come along. Scotland’s screaming for independence. 

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"You want to invest [but] the next phase of gWest is another fifty, sixty maybe one hundred million pounds and, as a family, we’re not willing to put that sort of money in if we don’t know what the future is.

“If Scotland got independence tomorrow and they decided to turn it into a tax haven like Monaco, we’d be the first there to put the money. In fact, we’d put in three or four courses in and build another two hotels. 

“But the way things are today, where it looks like taxation is going to go up and the local councils and local villages are going to control everything around them, maybe it’s not the place I need to put my money. Maybe there are better places to put it.”    

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Al-Tajir added that he has played the David McLay-Kidd designed course twenty or thirty times.

Asked for his verdict, he said: “It’s different, in truth, as a modern course. Maybe a few tweaks [are needed]. Don’t forget, the guy who designed the St Andrews Castle Course did it. He’s a respected designer and I’m a bad golfer.” With a laugh, he added: “Anything that’s hard, I don’t like.”

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PROGRAMME

Main image courtesy of Mark Alexander

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