CPRE to support local campaign group’s legal challenge over golf course

The Surrey Branch of CPRE will support legal proceedings by a local action group, the Cherkley Campaign, against the decision by the Development Control Committee of Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) to approve the development of a golf and leisure complex at Cherkley Court near Leatherhead.

CPRE is supporting the Cherkley Campaign because it believes that a Judicial Review could overturn MVDC’s decision to give planning consent for the golf course. The Council committee’s decision was made against the advice of MVDC’s own Planning Officers and in conflict with a number of provisions in the Mole Valley Local Plan.

CPRE has consistently argued against the development of a golf course on Cherkley’s precious chalk downland landscape, which is within the Green Belt and is an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) and part of which is in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Surrey Branch of CPRE believes that MVDC’s decision to give planning permission for the leisure development at Cherkley was fundamentally flawed.

On October 29 the Board of Trustees of CPRE Surrey agreed to instruct a solicitor to issue a Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) concerning MVDC’s decision, with a view to seeking a Judicial Review. At the subsequent CPRE Surrey Board meeting on December 7 it was agreed that the local Cherkley Campaign should take the lead in seeking the Judicial Review. CPRE Surrey has affiliated to the Campaign and made a financial contribution towards the Campaign costs.

Andy Smith, CPRE Surrey Branch Director, said: “We are delighted to support the Cherkley Campaign in its attempt to secure a Judicial Review of MVDC’s decision about Cherkley Court. We congratulate the Cherkley Campaign on its success in achieving such a high level of support, both locally and county-wide, in recent weeks. Now that the Cherkley Campaign is a properly constituted body, a registered company, with its own Board of Directors, a broadly-based membership, and a strong financial underpinning, we believe that it is entirely appropriate for this organization to take forward the Judicial Review. CPRE Surrey will support this initiative, actively and financially, but with the Cherkley Campaign leading.”

Mr Smith added: “We continue to believe that a golf course is an inappropriate development in this especially sensitive landscape which comprises precious farmland and wildflower meadows. A golf course will effectively ‘suburbanise’ a beautiful rural location.

“In our view, MVDC’s decision was arbitrary and it lacked coherence and justification in relation to national and local planning policies. This view is shared by CPRE’s National Office, which has been following developments here with great interest. We believe that the decision sets a potentially dangerous precedent. Any supposed ‘economic benefits’ resulting from a leisure development at Cherkley would be vastly outweighed by the environmental damage. This was the wrong decision and a Judicial Review would give us the chance to reverse it.”

For further details visit the website www.cherkleycampaign.co.uk. For information on CPRE, go to: www.cpre.org.uk.

-ENDS

Press contact: Andy Smith, CPRE Surrey Branch Director, tel 01372 362720, email cpre.surrey@btconnect.com.

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