So catering only to the international super rich is a ‘need’ in planning law terms is it?

Ridiculous – lets hope Campaign groups take this all the way to the Supreme Court.  Or else it opens the door to no end of damaging developments. Kit Kat has to lose this one.  Planning is about the public not private interests. Of course that can coincide with private interests on occasion but it is a balancing act  The ‘Public Interest’ cannot be appropriated like everything else by the 1%, which is why it matters so much that this goes all the way.  This is the UK equivalent of the Citizens United case in the States.


The Court of Appeal has overturned the High Court’s decision to quash a Surrey council’s approval of plans to turn press baron Lord Beaverbrook’s former country home into a hotel, health club and high-end golf club.

Cherkley Court: Court of Appeal judgement issued (picture by Tristan Ferne)
Cherkley Court: Court of Appeal judgement issued (picture by Tristan Ferne)

In August 2013, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave backed a campaign group’s challenge to Mole Valley District Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the development at Cherkley Court, near Leatherhead, against a recommendation of refusal by council planners.

The judge said that the decision to approve the application was “legally flawed, contrary to planning policy, failed to take account of material considerations, irrational and the reasons given for it were inadequate”. Among other things, the judge said that the council had failed to apply green belt policy.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave had ruled that there was no “need” for the high-end golf course, which would have a membership restricted to approximately 400 members, some of whom would be targeted to come from overseas, as a result of the large number of other courses in the area.

But allowing the appeal by the council and owners Longshot Cherkley Court, Lord Justice Richards ruled today that the High Court judge had gone wrong in finding that “need”, in planning terms, must relate to the public interest or the community as a whole.

He said: “I respectfully disagree with that reasoning. I see no reason in principle why a planning policy should not lay down a requirement of need which is capable of being met by a private demand for the facility in question, including a demand that arises outside the local community or area, as in the case of an elite facility catering for a national or even global market.

“It is not inimical to the philosophy of planning law to lay down such a requirement.”

As a result, he found no error of law on the part of the councillors in finding that need had been demonstrated for the development.

And he found that the judge was wrong to consider the grant of permission “perverse” and that his criticisms of the council were “unfair to the majority”.

In a statement, Mole Valley District Council chief executive Yvonne Rees said: “The appeal raised a number of important planning principles which are of significant interest to other planning authorities across the country. Such a decision reinforces the validity of the decision-making process that Mole Valley District Council undertook.”

Ian Todd, director of applicants Longshot Cherkley Court, said: “From our point of view the Court of Appeal judgement and the overwhelming support from the local community have only strengthened our resolve to deliver a project, of which, the Mole Valley residents can be justifiably proud.”

The Grade II listed Cherkley Court was built in the 1870s, rebuilt following fire in 1893 and bought by Canadian businessman Max Aitken, who later became the first Lord Beaverbrook, in 1911. He lived there until his death in 1964.

R on the Application of Cherkley Campaign Group Limited v Mole Valley District Council. Case Number: C1/2013/2619


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