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Council supports LibDem initiatives on Headley Court

October 14, 2018 11:37 AM

Headley CourtAt the Council meeting on 9th October, Mole Valley District Councillors passed a motion by Lib Dem Councillor Margaret Cooksey proposing two initiatives relating to the site at Headley Court, where the Ministry of Defence is rapidly winding down the operation of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre.

The first initiative calls on the Charity Commission to clarify whether the Headley Court Trust - the owners of the site - can take account of "Community Value" in assessing the best value it can obtain from the site. The Council had previously expressed its belief that the on-going employment, availability of affordable housing and retention of key facilities for rehabilitation purposes could all offer value to the local community. If successful, such clarification could open up serious consideration of a proposal to convert Headley Court to a civilian rehabilitation facility, using the existing gyms and swimming pool; this in turn could retain much of the expertise developed by Headley Court as a military operation.

The second initiative calls on the Council to make contact with any new owner as soon as their identity is known to express the benefit of bringing some or all of the existing houses on the site into occupation (subject to the usual planning permission considerations) to relieve the Council's housing waiting list. There are 64 existing houses on the site, most of which are now unoccupied. Concerns were expressed that without some intervention by the Council, these perfectly usable houses might be subject to dis-repair, vandalism or even demolition if the new owner's plans for the site run into planning or other delays.

Commenting after the debate, Margaret Cooksey said: "I am delighted that the Council supported these initiatives. The complex planning status of the Green Belt site at Headley Court may well delay any redevelopment plans and the Council has demonstrated that it does not want perfectly usable houses to remain empty for however long that takes."