Thursday 22 August 2013

Cherkley Court - Planning Permission Quashed!

This morning (22nd August 2013) at 10.30 in the Royal Court of justice in London the judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, gave his long-awaited finding of the judicial review heard on 6th, 7th & 10 June. He upheld the challenge brought by the Queen on the application of Cherkley Campaign Limited and thereby quashed the grant of planning permission given to Longshot by MVDC on 21st September 2012 "on the grounds that the Council's decision was variously legally flawed, contrary to planning policy, failed to take account of material considerations, irrational and the Reasons given for it were inadequate" [paragraph 208 of the judge's judgment].

The judge was quite clear: all work must stop forthwith and all plant be removed from the site; the only concession made was that work may be done to secure the site and make it safe. We hope that this is all that Longshot does and that it does not continue any construction under the guise of making things secure and safe.

This is a clear signal not only to MVDC but to all other local councils that you cannot ignore your officers' recommendations, your planning policy and the advice of the experts (landscape consultants, CPRE, Surrey Hills Board, NT etc.) on the back of a lot of public relations puff.

The judgment is given in a 56 page document of 209 paragraphs. If you wish to read the document, click here. In paragraph 122, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave says: In any event, in my judgment, the Council majority’s decision to grant planning permission for further golf facilities at Cherkley was perverse." This I have maintained was so in my blogs. It will be recalled also that the LRA opposed the application strictly on planning considerations (see the Spring Newsletter 2012).

Will there be an appeal? We do not know*. Certainly the judge was quite firm in not allowing an appeal as, in his opinion, any appeal would fail. If either MVDC or Longshot wish to lodge an appeal against the judge's decision they must apply to the Court of Appeal within, I understand, 31 days.

The MVDC officers produced a substantial and well-reasoned document opposing the Longshot proposal; they were put in the awkward position, after the Council majority's decision, of having to defend what they had opposed. Will they be put in the even more bizarre position of having to appeal against this decision?

This victory must surely give a boost to the Save Barnett Wood Lane Allotments campaign. Is this really the only place in the whole of Mole Valley where 500 houses can be built? Is there really a need to turf people out of allotments they have been working on for decades? I wish the allotment campaign all success and hope our councillors can be more rational and less perverse in future planning decisions.

* Since writing the above, I have learnt that Longshot, at least, will be applying to the Court of Appeal.

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