Appalled developers plan to appeal a judge’s decision to quash planning permission for a luxury hotel and exclusive golf course.

Countryside campaigners today won a legal battle to thwart plans to develop Cherkley Court, the former home of press magnate Lord Beaverbrook, near Leatherhead.

But developers Longshot Cherkley Court plan to appeal the High Court judge’s decision to quash planning permission granted by Mole Valley District Council (MVDC).

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Their statement said: “Today’s announcement has left Cherkley Court’s entire legal team as amazed as they are appalled to learn that the judicial review against the council has been successful.”

Cherkley Campaign, who had pursued legal action to block the development, hailed the ruling as a “great victory for our campaign and for all who care about the countryside.”

High Court judge Mr Justice Haddon-Cave concluded that the approval of plans was irrational, legally flawed, contrary to planning policy and based on inadequate reasons.

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Diggers at work on the estate

He described the council’s conclusion that the landscape would not be compromised as ‘perverse’ and said: “The council majority at best paid lip-service to the greenbelt policy.”

He said: “Pure private ‘demand’ is antithetical to public ‘need’, particularly very exclusive private demand. Once this is understood, the case answers itself.

“The more exclusive the golf club, the less public need is demonstrated. It is a zero sum game.”

But Longshot Cherkley Court, which aims to restore the estate to its former glory and create hundreds of local jobs, said unanimous opinions they received stated that ‘need’ is of no relevance in judicial reviews.

Tim Hellier, head of planning at Berwin Leighton Paisner, said: ‘We feel entirely let down by the judicial system.

“Our legal team, including the country's leading planning QC, remain of the view that the decision of MVDC to grant planning permission is robust, lawful and correct.”

Christopher Katkowski QC added: ‘We are very strongly of the view that the judge has reached a flawed decision here. We are confident that the Court of Appeal would overturn the decision.”

Meanwhile on behalf of the council Councillor John Northcott, portfolio holder of planning, said: “Mole Valley District Council vigorously defended its handling of this planning application and we are very disappointed that the challenge has been upheld.

“This application was the most complex in the council’s history and, given the decision, we will now need to take time to consider what our next steps will be and the impact this will have.”

What do you think about the decision?

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