Mole Valley legal appeal over Cherkley Court to go ahead

Cherkley Court
Image caption Longshot Cherkley Court wants to create a hotel and an "exclusive" 18-hole private golf course

A legal appeal over Lord Beaverbrook's former home in Surrey will go ahead despite concerns over costs, a council has agreed.

Mole Valley had planned to go the Court of Appeal to challenge a High Court judicial review which quashed its decision to allow a hotel and golf course on the estate near Leatherhead.

A motion for the appeal to be withdrawn failed at a meeting on Wednesday.

Councillor John Northcott said the appeal would now go ahead.

'Double or quits'

Councillor David Preedy, one of the 10 Liberal Democrat members who signed the motion, said potential costs of the action had risen from £80,000 to £220,000.

He said: "We have spent legal fees defending the development control decision and we're now going on [with] an appeal which would be funded by developers anyway, so basically the council's playing double or quits with public money and I don't think that's right."

The judicial review is also being challenged at the Court of Appeal by developers Longshot Cherkley Court.

Mole Valley, a council under no overall control and run by Conservative and Independent coalition, has backed the development plan, claiming it would bring economic investment and growth to Mole Valley when it was most needed, as well as securing public access to a local landmark.

Image caption Lord Beaverbrook lived at Cherkley Court until his death in 1964

Independent member Mr Northcott said: "It's not all that exceptional to incur costs of this magnitude on defending decisions of the council."

He said all planning authorities were challenged from time to time and had to deploy considerable resources to defend their members' decisions.

"This is obviously at the upper end of the scale but it may not be the largest we've done," he said.

Press baron Lord Beaverbrook lived in the house from 1911 until his death in 1964.

The Beaverbrook Foundation bought the estate after the death of Dowager Lady Beaverbrook in 1994 and ran the estate with the intention it would pay for itself, but falling visitor numbers meant it closed to the public in 2009.

The following year the estate was put up for sale with an asking price of £20m. Longshot bought the property and unveiled the development plans a year later.

The development has been opposed by the Cherkley Campaign and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who believe the proposals would affect the green belt landscape of the North Downs. They have also said there are already 141 golf courses in the county.

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