CHERKLEY CAMPAIGN seeks leave to appeal to Supreme Court following Court of Appeal judgment 7 May 2014.

News Release - 19th May 2014 
In our view it is right and proper for the courts to continue to intervene in environmental and public law cases such as ours. Cherkley Campaign Ltd formed as an umbrella group with the sole purpose of applying to the High Court for a judicial review of the lawfulness of the permission for a new golf course and built development in the Green Belt. We were fearful that if the planning system could not protect the Cherkley Estate then no countryside in England would be safe from the developers. Cherkley is a sensitive site with many planning designations and it was hard to see how those protections could legitimately be overridden. 
In our view councillors were simply not listening to their advisers and local residents but instead relied heavily on the literature provided by the developer's lobbyists. We now learn that 'local democracy' means that councillors are free to exercise their planning judgment and approve applications in the face of local opposition, expert evidence and in spite of the policy restraints contained in the Local Plan.
Objectors to a golf course on Cherkley Court's exceptional landscape at Leatherhead Downs included the Surrey Hills AONB Board, the National Trust, Friends of Box Hill and CPRE Surrey. Mickleham Parish Council together with many local residents (double the number of Mole Valley objectors to supporters of the scheme) also objected to Longshot's proposals for a golf course on environmental grounds. Many, including the Surrey Botanical Society and the President of the European Centre for Nature Conservation, then wrote to the Secretary of State urging him to call in this planning application.(see letter to The Times 28 May)  Sadly the minister declined to appoint a planning inspector to decide whether a departure from the local and national planning policy was justified, saying instead that it was up to local decision-makers. 
Our legal challenge partly focused on whether councillors could reasonably conclude that an Area of Great Landscape Value and the Surrey Hills AONB would be conserved and enhanced by a golf course, rather than altered, degraded and ultimately left more vulnerable to inappropriate development. As we are all too painfully aware golf courses cannot now be considered as fulfilling Natural England's definition as areas of outstanding natural beauty and cannot therefore be included in the AONB boundary review. 
The Court of Appeal removed the critical 'need' test from the equation, by saying the supporting text no longer formed part of the saved policy and, even if it were a material consideration, 'need' can now mean 'demand', even for an ultra exclusive golf course to serve the global market. Neither is there any longer a requirement to direct future golf courses away from Mole Valley's protected landscapes. It is therefore not necessary to act in the 'public interest', in the old fashioned sense, when overriding the environmental considerations and promoting economic growth. 
Last year Longshot Cherkley Court Ltd granted a 999 year leasehold over the farmland on Cherkley to the Beaverbrook Golf Club Limited. It is hard to fathom how divorcing a Grade II Listed historic home from its farmland is going to achieve the long term protection of either Cherkley Court or its surrounding countryside for the benefit of future generations.  
This has always struck us as a highly speculative development, a business opportunity for a select group of offshore companies and wealthy individuals. It has long been obvious that Longshot have enjoyed the support of the Mole Valley Conservative Party. MAY 18, 2014 BY DAVID HART QC
Golf course judicial review case reversed on appeal

CLICK  here for a copy of the Court of Appeal Judgment handed down 7th May 2014.

CLICK HERE  and see what they’ve done to our countryside... on you-tube.
Cherkley Court was sold by the Beaverbrook Foundation in 2011 as a private residence in ‘immaculate condition’ with its gardens and historic parkland having been restored ‘to their former glory’. Longshot Cherkley Court Limited paid over £20m to secure their purchase, outbidding private buyers. As one of Surrey’s last surviving country house estates Cherkley deserves protection from speculative development as a luxury hotel, spa and leisure complex. These wildflower meadows were created under a Countryside Stewardship Scheme and the estate was farmed by Norbury Park Dairy Farm from 1987 until January 2013. 

Yet councillors granted planning permission against the strongest and clearest of recommendations to refuse by Mole Valley’s planning officers, and by a majority of only one vote on 4th April 2012, which was reaffirmed again by the same narrow margin at the following meeting of the Development Control Committee on 2nd May. The application was referred to the Secretary of State as a departure from the approved development plan, but he declined the opportunity to hold a public enquiry and instead referred the application back to Mole Valley for a local decision. 

When Mole Valley granted planning permission on 21st September 2012  we instructed Richard Buxton Solicitors in Environmental and Public Law to issue proceedings for a Judicial Review in the High Court on 17th December 2012.   Click here for link to Richard Buxton

Counsel for the Claimant (Cherkley Campaign Ltd) is Douglas Edwards QC and Sarah Sackman from Francis Taylor Building -  Click here for link to Francis Taylor Building

Cherkley Campaign Ltd - a private company limited by guarantee. Incorporated in England. Company number 8275498.  Registered office: c/o CPRE Surrey, The Institute, 67 High Street, Leatherhead, KT22 8AH.