CHERKLEY CAMPAIGN won in the High Court. Mr Justice Haddon-Cave handed down his judgment on 22nd August 2013 and quashed Mole Valley District Council’s decision to grant planning permission to Longshot Cherkley Court Limited to develop Cherkley Court and Cherkley Estate into an exclusive golf and hotel facilities on the grounds that the Council’s decision was variously legally flawed, contrary to the planning policy, failed to take account of material considerations, irrational and the Reasons given for it were inadequate. 
 Click here for copy of the judgment.   

“A Judicial Hole in One” recommended read by Estates Gazette Sept 2013.


Longshot and Mole Valley District Council have permission to appeal the ruling in the Court of Appeal, the two day hearing will start on 10th /11th March 2014.  Longshot’s desire and need to appeal was obvious. But Mole Valley’s decision to appeal is less understandable because it means the public purse will continue to be used to defend a private planning application, which their own officers had recommended for refusal.

At a Special Council Meeting held on 13th November the proposition was debated that the Conservative/Independent administration should abandon its appeal against the ruling of Mr. Justice Haddon-Cave as a waste of public money. The motion was lost by 19 to 14 votes. 
MVDC are prepared therefore to continue to gamble on the hope that the High Court judgment will be overturned, Longshot’s planning permission will be restored and Cherkley Campaign will be ordered to pay Mole Valley’s costs. 

Subsequently on Friday 15th November Haddon-Cave J handed down his judgment on costs. The Council was ordered to pay Cherkley Campaign’s costs in the substantive case having succeeded handsomely on the three main grounds. Click here for Judgment on Costs
Note that Longshot Cherkley Court Limited were ordered to pay the costs for the interim hearings. They had agreed to give a financial undertaking to restore the landscape in return for getting started on the construction work before the JR was determined. This undertaking was given to the court. 

Cherkley Campaign was set up to defend Leatherhead Downs from Longshot’s proposals to construct the Beaverbrook golf course on this open downland and a rare chalk grassland habitat in the Surrey Hills. It was incorporated in order to bring the application for judicial review in the High Court on behalf of CPRE Surrey and to act as an umbrella for local residents and members of various organisations who had objected to the planning application. Mole Valley District Council failed to determine Longshot’s planning application in accordance with policies contained in our Local Plan. These policies were put in place to protect the rural character and landscape of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Mole Valley’s Green Belt from unnecessary, irreversible and inappropriate development. 

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 flower meadows (below) 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
The judgment found that the Committee’s majority decision was unlawful on three main grounds.

(1)	The Committee failed to understand and apply the true meaning of the “need” requirement in Policy REC12 of the Local Plan for a further golf course. And the decision to grant planning permission for a golf course at Cherkley was perverse: there was no evidence upon which the Committee could rationally conclude that “need” for the golf course had been shown.

Also in relation to Policy REC12, the judge said that the Committee failed to address the requirement that golf course proposals are to be directed away from the area. He said that the statement by Cllr Dickson at the Committee meeting on 4 April 2012 that the golf course was an intrinsic part of the business plan and could not be located elsewhere was fallacious.

(2)	The Committee failed to apply the relevant policies on protected landscape. Its conclusion that the overall landscape character “would not be compromised” by the golf course could not rationally be reached and was perverse.

(3)	The Committee failed conscientiously to consider whether there were “very special circumstances” for some of the new buildings in the Green Belt. At best, the Committee paid lip-service to the Green Belt policy, but did not apply it.

The judge also added, in relation to the Reasons for the decision drafted by the Council officers, that the officers “were tasked with defending the indefensible”.

The judge ordered all work under the planning permission to stop. He also refused permission for the Council or Longshot to appeal his judgment. He said at the hearing on Thursday that this case was not finely balanced, and that in his judgment the result (quashing the permission) would be the same on an appeal.



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.