There is major concern at Southern League Premier Division South side Walton Casuals as they could be forced to move grounds after the Council wrongly okayed planning permission for its own sports centre.
A report from BBC Surrey says, “A council faces the possibility of having to demolish its own £18m sports complex after twice granting itself planning permission unlawfully.
Elmbridge Borough Council approved plans for the Xcel Sports Hub in Walton in 2017, the day after its initial consent was quashed by the High Court.
But the court said the council should have explained its change of approach.The council said it would challenge the judgement and would not “speculate” on the potential ramifications.The initial planning permission for the complex was overturned in September 2017 after a judge ruled the council was wrong to consider it appropriate development for the area when it had acknowledged it would have “an adverse impact” on the openness of the green belt.
A day later council planners considered a second application in which officers and a legal adviser suggested the impact would be “limited”, even though the formal sports facilities – home to three of the town’s football teams and its athletics club – occupied a larger area and would restrict views across the site.
Following a challenge by Matthew Davison, owner of the neighbouring Weir Hotel and Restaurant, judge Mrs Justice Thornton quashed the second application, too.
She said the council had a right to change its view on the potential impact on the surrounding environment but had a duty to explain its reasoning.
She said: “The applications were identical in all material respects and related to the same site.”Public confidence in the council’s decision making was important, given the earlier judicial criticism and given the council was awarding permission to itself.”All that would have been required to avoid the present litigation was a sentence saying that the previous report had reached a different judgment and explaining why a different view had been taken.”
Elmbridge said it was “considering the technicalities” and would not speculate on the full implications of having a development without planning consent until it had challenged the judgement, which it said had been based on “one technical ground”.