Judge rejects ‘too exclusive golf club’29th August, 2013 by Alistair Dunsmuir
Owners of an estate that was in the process of being turned into a highly exclusive golf club have said they are “appalled” with a high court judge’s decision to stop the project on the basis that the venue would be too exclusive.
The owners of the Cherkley Court estate in Surrey, which Winston Churchill frequently visited during World War Two, wanted to turn the 375-acre venue into a luxury golf club with, according to local rumours, six figure joining fees.
Mole Valley District Council granted planning permission for the development last year, and work began to build the exclusive ‘Beaverbrook Golf Club’ – named after Lord Beaverbrook, the press baron who lived there for most of the 20th century. However, in March environmental campaigners and local residents were granted an injunction to halt the development. One of their arguments was that there are already 141 golf courses in Surrey – meaning there is no need for another golf club.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said it was this argument that was key and that he made his decision on whether a need for further golf facilities in the area could be demonstrated.
He concluded that it could not. “The more exclusive the golf club, the less public need is demonstrated. It is a zero sum game,” he said.
“Pure private ‘demand’ is antithetical to public ‘need’, particularly very exclusive private demand. Once this is understood, the case answers itself.”
He therefore upheld the legal challenge and overturned the decision of the council to grant planning permission to build the exclusive golf club. He added that the council had “at best paid lip service to the green belt policy but did not apply it”.
The owners of the property said they were “appalled and amazed” by the decision, and will appeal.
A statement from Longshot Cherkley Court said: “The announcement has left Cherkley Court’s entire legal team as amazed as they are appalled to learn that the judicial review against the council has been successful.”
Christopher Katkowski QC, from its legal team, added: “The judge has reached a flawed decision here. We are confident that the Court of Appeal would overturn the decision”.
Campaigners, meanwhile, hailed the ruling as a “great victory for all who care about the countryside.”