The case of R (oao Cherkeley Campaign Limited) v Mole Valley DC and Anr is a very interesting read and provides a useful source of guidance on the meaning of “need” as well as considering the point as to whether the explanatory text supporting a policy is “saved” when the policy itself is saved. On that latter point the answer was “yes”. The case involved the grant of planning permission for a “5 star” golf course and additional facilities in Surrey. The application site benefitted from just about every special designation available including green belt status. Notwithstanding a strong officer recommendation for refusal, members decided to grant.

The court decided that members had fallen into error in concluding there was a need for the facility – so much so as to make their decision perverse. Other grounds were also successful and as a whole the conclusion was that the council’s decision had been “variously legally flawed, contrary to planning policy, failed to take account of material considerations, irrational, and the reasons given for it were inadequate”. Not what you’d call a finely balanced decision!