PLANS for an exclusive golf course and luxury hotel have been given the final go-ahead by the council.
In May councillors granted permission for Longshot's proposal to build a 40- to 48-bedroom hotel and members-only golf course at the Cherkley Court estate near Leatherhead.
Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, decided not to "call in" the decision, leaving it to Mole Valley District Council, and on Friday the council issued a decision notice paving the way for work to start.
Longshot chief executive Joel Cadbury said: "The announcement that we have been granted planning permission represents a huge step forward on our journey.
"I would like to thank everyone for the tremendous levels of local support that we have received."
The permission is dependent on almost 60 conditions, including a requirement for Longshot to provide a £240,000 bond to reinstate the golf course to meadowland should the development fail within five years.
The proposals were fiercely opposed by some local residents and conservation groups, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England's (CPRE) Surrey branch has vowed to keep fighting.
Director Andy Smith said: "We're talking to our legal advisers and we're in the process of putting the funding in place for a legal challenge.
"We believe the council's decision-making process was flawed and the decision is seriously compromised – we will be seeking to prove this and to push the council back to the drawing board. It is quite wrong that the Local Plan can be flouted, the council's own planning officers ignored and the advice of such a wide range of environmental experts completely disregarded.
"We cannot allow this precious and sensitive area of surrey countryside to be wrecked for the sake of a few hundred rich golfers, paying over £100,000 each for the privilege."
Kristina Kenworthy, founder of the Cherkley Campaign, which was created to protest the plans, said: "In allowing development of a luxury hotel, spa and exclusive golf course the council has betrayed our Local Plan.
"Cherkley Campaign will be supporting the CPRE in mounting a legal challenge to this decision.
"Can the developers find 400 people prepared to part with £160,000 to fund construction of the Beaverbrook Golf Club in a county suffering from a surfeit of golf courses?"