A planning application has been lodged to transform the former Surrey home of Lord Beaverbrook into a prestigious country house hotel which could rival some of the best in the UK.
Longshot, the property and leisure operator, which bought Cherkley Court, near Leatherhead, earlier this year off an asking price of £20m, is looking to create a 48-bedroom luxury hotel with two restaurants, a health club, a spa and a cookery school. It also hopes to develop a clubhouse and 18-hole golf course within the 390-acre estate which would rival the exclusive Queenwood Golf Club in nearby Ottershaw.
In a hotel feasibility study lodged with Mole Valley District Council to support the application, TRI Consulting stated: "We consider there to be a strong opportunity for the development of a luxury destination country house hotel at Cherkley Court, which will be capable of successfully penetrating the UK's luxury destination hotel sector and compete for regional, national and international demand with properties such as Coworth Park, Lime Wood, Cliveden, Pennyhill Park and Chewton Glen."
Owned by press baron Lord Beaverbrook and his family between 1910 and 1995, Cherkley Court would benefit as a hotel, claims the planning application, from its affluent location close to the M25 and just 20 miles away from both Gatwick and Heathrow airports.
However, there is opposition to the plans from the Cherkley Campaign, which has been set up to specifically fight the application, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
The Cherkley Campaign says that a hotel on what is Green Belt land is "wholly unacceptable" and is building support to protect what it describes as "spectacular countryside from commercial exploitation".
Set up in 1994 by Joel Cadbury and Ollie Vigors, Longshot has had interests in a range of restaurants, clubs and pubs. It launched the 24-hour restaurant Vingt Quatre restaurant and the Groucho Club, which it has since sold, and in 2010 bought the Orchid Group's Bel and the Dragon pub business with four sites.
By Janet Harmer
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