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SURREY CC WINS BROOKLANDS GREEN SPACE COURT BATTLE

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A fight to preserve land at the site of the historic Brooklands motor racing circuit from development has ended in ...
A fight to preserve land at the site of the historic Brooklands motor racing circuit from development has ended in victory at London's Court of Appeal.

The three acres, to the south of the now disused track, have been the subject of a long legal wrangle between Surrey CC, which wants the land left as open space, and owners, Gillenden Development Company Ltd (GDC), who wished to use it for development.

GDC's arguments succeeded at the High Court in London in December 1995 when Deputy Judge Malcolm Spence QC found in its favour, overturning the council's designation of the site as Green Belt, after ruling it had failed to give adequate reasons for going against the DoE inspector's recommendation.

But Surrey CC won the day in the Appeal Court when three judges overruled Judge Spence's decision.

During the hearing the Appeal Court heard the council had designated the site as Green Belt and so safe from development as long ago as 1983 only to see its decision overturned when the owners of another plot at Brooklands successfully challenged the designation in the High Court in 1990.

But in 1991 the council again proposed to set aside the land as Green Belt.

GDC objected and the DoE inspector held a public inquiry in 1993 before deciding against the council.

But, the court heard, in the meantime GDC had applied to Woking BC for planning permission for a housing development at the site.

When the company was refused it appealed against the decision and the planning inspector who heard the case, rejected the development and recommended the land should be designated Green Belt.

Lord Justice Pill, sitting with Lords Justice Leggatt and Ward, said the county council had made it clear it had based the designation on the reasons given by the planning inspector and so had given sufficient reason for its decision.

Giving judgment, he said: 'The definition of Green Belt land is almost always a difficult exercise.

'It is rarely easy to determine where town ends and country begins and there will inevitably be differences between experts as well as laymen. ' It was sufficient for the council to express its preference for the reasoning of the planning inspector and include his reasons as reasons for designating the site Green Belt.

'It was not necessary to demonstrate the other inspector was wrong.'

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