Cherkley campaigners vow to fight on after Government fails to call-in MVDC decision

Cherkley campaigners vow to fight on after Government fails to call-in MVDC decision

Campaigners against a golf and leisure development at Cherkley Court near Leatherhead have vowed to continue their fight after the Government decided not to authorize a planning inquiry.

Members of CPRE Surrey Branch said they were “disappointed but not entirely surprised” that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Mr Eric Pickles, had declined to ‘call in’ a decision by Mole Valley councillors in favour of the development.
“The fact that the Secretary of State has turned down our request for the council’s decision to be ‘called in’ does not amount to a green light for the golf course scheme to go ahead,” said CPRE Surrey Branch Director Andy Smith. “Far from it, in fact. We will continue to oppose the scheme because we believe this is completely inappropriate development at this location.
“We maintain that the environmental impact assessment at Cherkley was not properly carried out and therefore Mole Valley Council are not in a position to grant planning permission. An environmental assessment is a legal requirement, and is especially important at Cherkley as it is such an ecologically sensitive site.”
Mr Smith explained: “Cherkley is in the Metropolitan Green Belt and is a designated Area of Great Landscape Value, and part of the site is within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The land which the developers, Longshot, want to turn into a golf course is precious chalk grassland, and its very special character and biodiversity will be lost forever if the development goes ahead.
“Councillors were wrong to vote in favour of the development against CPRE’s advice, and against the recommendations of Mole Valley Council’s own Planning Officers, the County Ecologist, the National Trust, Natural England, Surrey Hills Partnership, Surrey Botanical Society, Friends of Box Hill, Leatherhead Residents’ Association, Mickleham Parish Council and numerous other organizations – and also against the district’s own Local Plan.
“Is it any wonder that there have been complaints about the process which led MVDC’s Development Control Committee to its decision? In fact, one member of that Committee is now subject to an investigation by the Council’s Standards Committee, and there is no question of planning permission being granted for Longshot until the Standards Committee has reported back.”
He added: “Councillors were not in possession of the full facts when they voted on the proposal from Longshot. We believe that the decision-making process was fundamentally flawed and compromised, and if necessary we will seek to establish the full facts of the matter through a Judicial Review.”
CPRE Surrey Branch has more than 2,500 members. It campaigns to protect vulnerable countryside and green spaces, and to maintain the unique character of our rural landscapes.
-Ends
Press contact: Andy Smith, CPRE Surrey Branch Director, tel 01372 362720, mobile 07737 271676. Email cpre.surrey@btconnect.com

 

Comments are closed.