Surrey council to appeal quashed Beaverbrook estate plans

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

A council is to join a development company in appealing against the High Court's decision to quash planning consent for a hotel and golf course.

The plans for Cherkley Court near Leatherhead, Surrey were approved in 2012 by Mole Valley District Council, but were overturned in August.

The council said it considered the judge's decision to be "flawed".

The owners of the estate, Longshot Cherkley Court Ltd, have also made an application for leave to appeal.

Row over 'need'

Longshot Cherkley Court wanted to create a hotel, health club and spa, cookery school and an "exclusive" private 18-hole golf course.

But High Court judge Mr Justice Haddon-Cave had said much of the legal argument revolved around the need for a further golf course in Surrey.

He said the more exclusive the golf club, the less public need was demonstrated.

And he said Mole Valley council had misunderstood the meaning of "need" when the plans were approved.

Campaigners had also argued Surrey already had 141 golf courses and the plans impacted on the green belt.

The council supported the plan because it would re-open the private house and create jobs.

Judge's decision 'flawed'

Image caption Lord Beaverbrook lived at Cherkley Court until he died in 1964

Yvonne Rees, chief executive of the council, said: "This is the most complex planning application Mole Valley District Council has ever had to consider.

"After carefully reviewing the decision documents and having taken external legal advice, Mole Valley District Council considers that the judge's decision is flawed and will make an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal."

She said work on the site had been suspended while the appeal process takes place.

Lawyers working for Longshot Cherkley Court said they still took the view the council decision had been "robust, lawful and correct", and the judge had reached "a flawed decision".

Development plans

The property was built in 1866 before being rebuilt in the French chateau style in the 1890s.

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 it 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 its development plans a year later.

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