£1.1m “retirement” home features Cold War golf ball


A RETIREMENT home with a difference has come on the market – a 60ft-high Cold War “golf ball”.

The former NATO facility at Balado Bridge, a former RAF base near Kinross in Perth and Kinross, was opened by Princess Anne in 1985, at the height of tensions with the Soviet Union.

Inside the huge white dome structure is a large antenna and dish which was designed to detect marauding Soviet aircraft.

The fibreglass globe is lined with impenetrable steel to prevent the electronics inside being monitored by USSR spies.

But now the distinct golf ball shaped dome and the adjoining buildings have been put up for sale for £1.1m.

And – the current owner says – the incredible property would be “ideal” for a new retirement home.

The exact use of the station is unknown – as official accounts are lacking.

But it seems most likely that it was used as a satellite link or a listening station to eavesdrop on communications.

As well as the “landmark” golf ball structure, the sale includes a guardhouse, office building, ground station and other outbuildings.

It also comes with nine acres of land – which was used as an airfield during WWII.

The whole facility is also surrounded by “secure fencing” – a relic of its secretive past.

Inside the dome
Inside the dome

The facility was decommissioned in 2006 – and bought by local entrepreneur Bob Ferguson for just over £500,000.

Mr Ferguson had been interested in the facility for a number of years, but had originally been told that the cost of the property would be too high.

He said: “I was politely told that my pockets were not deep enough to buy it.

“I forgot about it but when I came back a few years later I went up to Kinross to look at it. The ‘for sale’ sign was still there.

“I asked if it still belonged to the [Ministry of Defence] and discovered it was up for sale again.

“I phoned the powers-that-be and was told that they would listen to the first person to come along with the cash. I said, ‘Well I’m your man.’”

Mr Ferguson has yet to developed the golf ball, but planning permission is being sought for commercial, residential and environmental opportunities on the site.

The property was originally set to be sold last year to a Dutch company – who planned to use it for data storage.

But the sale fell through, and now Mr Ferguson has decided to relist it.

The dome stands out in the lush green countryside
The dome stands out in the lush green countryside

He went on: “I am drawn to unusual buildings.

“I tend to look at something and say, ‘What can I do with it?’ Half of the population of Scotland can access Balado Bridge within an hour.

“That’s pretty important. To me it is the ideal location to set up a retirement home.”

Colin Jenkins is managing the sale of the property for estate agent Amazing Results.

He said: “It is an iconic site situated where T in the Park used to be. It has a variety of uses, from its current set-up, to a pitch and putt.”