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Kinross-shire ‘golf ball’ ex-NATO spy base goes up for sale for cut-price £750k

The former RAF SATCOM Ground Station. Balado Bridge, Kinross.
The former RAF SATCOM Ground Station. Balado Bridge, Kinross.

A distinctive decommissioned spy base in Kinross-shire has been put on the market for a cut price £750,000.

The golf-ball shaped Balado Satellite Ground Station, built on the former RAF Balado Bridge site, houses a now inactive NATO Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) early warning radar.

Opened by Princess Anne in 1985, the white fibreglass protective radome contains a large dish antenna which is still intact and could be rotated and elevated to point in any direction.

It was manned by soldiers from the Royal Corps of Signals until 2006.

The 6.12 acre site comes with a level of security that anybody purchasing a former Ministry of Defence-owned satellite communications base would expect.

The entire compound is surrounded by a burglar-proof double layered security fence.

The golf ball is connected to the main equipment building by a corridor and has doors built to withstand a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

The complex contains an additional emergency power generator room and an accommodation block which once housed the station mess, recreation, and office space.

There are also garages, diesel tanks and a sizeable guardhouse with facilities including a kitchen and toilet.

A rugby field sits in the grounds and fishing rights for the stretch of the South Queich Burn which runs through the complex are included.

The seller, who has held the keys to the compound for around a decade, is asking for a reduced price for the base which was put on the market for £1.1m in 2014.

Estate agents Amazing Results say a neighbouring plot of around 2.86 acres can also be purchased if desired.

Perth and Kinross Council’s adopted local development plan has earmarked the site for employment use and there has previously been interest in converting the site into an Eden Project-type attraction, as well as a golf academy and driving range.

Estate agent Colin Jenkins said: “In the past, there’s been prospective buyers with interests in everything from space to golf, hospitality to industry, weapons to planes and breweries to a fish farm.

“It’s had just about everybody. There has been a lot of offers and some have been accepted but they’ve fallen through due to finance or grants.

“There used to be around 50 people employed there. It’s one of the better maintained ex-MoD sites that I’ve seen and everything is self contained.”

RAF Balado Bridge was in use from March 1943 until 1957 and served as a satellite to Grangemouth as part of 81 Group.

It was originally used to fly Hurricanes and Spitfires during the Second World War and was a training site for Polish pilots.

Although it was adopted for military use, the dome structure was originally conceived by American architect R. Buckminster Fuller to deal with a chronic housing shortage in the USA in 1944.

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