Yesterday a panel of three senior judges upheld the appeal against the development of Redhill Aerodrome bought by the legal teams representing the Government and both local authorities (Tandridge and Reigate & Banstead).
This reverses the High Court judgment made by Justice Patterson in June which overturned the Planning Inspectors decision to reject the Appeal heard at the January 2014 Public Inquiry.
The decision yesterday represents a landmark defence of the Green Belt and provides much needed clarification through case law of how Green Belt policy should now be considered within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
KRAG Secretary Paul Murray said:
"All our hard work has paid off. We have been fighting this predatory company (RAV) for 21 years and this decision finally would appear to leave them with no place to go. The Green Belt is a precious commodity and should be rigorously protected, both for the present and more importantly for the future.
The full judgement will not be released for about 2 weeks so I am unable to comment in detail at this time, however it would seem that this decision will finally signal the end of the totally unrealistic aspirations of owners RAV to build a hard runway on this Green Belt site. The site was a grass field aerodrome when RAV bought it and since then they have waged a planning war of attrition against the local population to line their own pockets.
Aerodrome CEO Ann Bartaby was quoted in the local press yesterday as saying:
'that after a long time it is good that we now know exactly where we stand'.
This conveniently completely ignores the fact that the reason uncertainty has existed since they bought the Aerodrome in 1991 has been their repeated unrealistic planning applications. This deliberately abrasive approach has blighted the local community, wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of both public and private money, spent opposing overly ambitious and unrealistic expansion plans.
The continued pursuit by RAV to develop the facility have also incurred huge costs for the aerodrome associated management and operating companies. This must have substantially contributed to undermining the aerodrome finances which RAV have frequently asserted are less than healthy. They are the sole authors of their own misfortune.
Now it appears we are at the end of this torturous process, KRAG would like to thank the sterling efforts made by both local authorities to oppose this application, both by their individual officers and the respective Councillors. The 2 Parish Councils involved also maintained a consistent approach in opposing this development, maintaining excellent links with KRAG throughout
Sam Gyimah and Crispin Blunt both demonstrated that they are excellent constituency MP's as did MEP Keith Taylor. Their consistent support provided us with the platform from which we presented our evidence, democratically representing local opinion fully supported and endorsed by elected representatives.
Further appreciation must be shown to the hundreds of local residents who wrote to their respective local authorities to oppose the development and especially the courageous individuals who formally gave evidence at the Public Inquiry. By giving evidence in what is an intimidating ordeal they truly demonstrated that they had the courage of their convictions. The very fact that so many were prepared to go to such lengths to protect their local rural environment is a testament to the strength of feeling that this issue generated.
Lastly I thank our many supporters without who our committee would not have been able to present the comprehensive case we put forward at the Inquiry. Together we have proved that even under an inherently unfair planning system that allows repeated, but broadly similar applications, it is possible for the voice of the people to be heard. The fact that a bunch of ageing, balding locals (and that is just my committee) can defeat the leading Planning QC demonstrates that the 'Small Society' can triumph over the 'Big Developer'."
Together we have managed to KEEP REDHILL AIRFIELD GREEN
Turning to the future and after a short period of recuperation The KRAG committee may form a Mariachi band and be available for weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs! We could consider hiring one of the numerous redundant ramshackle buildings at Redhill Aerodrome for practice. I am sure RAV would welcome the revenue! However I will recommend we store the instruments elsewhere due to the high probability of a leaky roof. Book early to avoid disappointment."
We will comment further when the full transcript of the verdict is available.