A WEALTHY sheikh living in Windlesham will be allowed to build on green belt land because of security fears after September 11.

Surrey Heath Council had received a planning application on behalf of the owner of Windlesham Moor estate, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, the deputy ruler of the United Arab Emirates.

The application was to replace the property's gatehouse with a two-storey house with additional accommodation in the basement for security officers and ancillary office and storage facilities.

In most cases planning officers and local authorities are reluctant to grant planning permission to build on green belt land and try to encourage development on brownfield sites instead.

However, members of Surrey Heath's development control committee were told that the application had been made in the wake of the terrorist atrocities in the USA.

An officer's report to the committee read: "The applicant has submitted that following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington DC in the United States of America, there has been an immediate increase in the need for security for royal families and heads of state throughout the world.

"The applicant maintains that the Sheikh and his family are at particular risk, given the location of their country and the nature of and their participation and co-operation in what is now referred to commonly as the ‘war against terrorism'."

Shiekh Hamdan is a prominent member of the UAE Royal Family and, like his brothers, is a successful racehorse owner.

The committee was told that Surrey Heath's planning department had received one letter of objection to the proposal.

The letter expressed concern that the loss of the lodge would be detrimental in terms of historical significance, the present building fits into the landscape and a precedent would be set for the replacement of other lodge houses in the area.

However, the report concluded that the circumstances of the application were "unique and peculiar" which "positively outweighs the harm to the green belt that the proposal would cause".

After considering the report councillors sitting on the development control committee agreed the new gatehouse could be built and granted planning permission.