Developer Longshot, which bought the property in 2011 off an asking price of £20m with a view to turn it into a 48-bedroom luxury hotel with an exclusive private members' golf course, is to appeal against yesterday's decision to overturn Mole Valley District Council's (MVDC) decision to grant planning permission for the plan.
The case was brought before the High Court after a pressure group, the Cherkley Campaign, supported by the Surrey branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), won the right to pursue a judicial review against the council. Members of the campaign questioned why a site which borders an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty could be giving the go-ahead to be turned into a another golf course in a county which already has more than 140.
Judge Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said that the decision by MVDC to grant permission - by a majority of nine to eight councillors - was "legally flawed, contrary to planning policy, failed to take account of material considerations, irrational and the reasons given for it were inadequate".
He went on to say that the council had not applied green belt policy. "The council majority's conclusion that the overall landscape character 'would not be compromised' by the imposition of a golf course on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Area of Great Landscape Value was perverse," he explained. "The council majority failed to have regard to the policy of 'conserving and enhancing the existing landscape'."
In a statement, Langshot, set up in 1994 by Joel Cadbury and Ollie Vigors, said that its legal team was "amazed as they are appalled" that the judicial review has been successful and now intends to appeal against the decision.
Tim Hellier of Langshot's legal team, said that the company felt "entirely let down" by the judicial system. "We remain of the view that the decision of MVDC to grant planning permission is robust, lawful and correct.'
Christopher Katkowski, Langshot's barrister and one of the UK's leading planning lawyers, added: "We are very strongly of the view that the judge has reached a flawed decision here. We are confident that the Court of Appeal would overturn the decision."
Langshot's plan was to create a 48-bedroom luxury hotel with two restaurants, a health club, spa and cookery school, within the Grade II-listed French chÁ¢teau-style property dating back to 1894 and outbuildings.