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Wales Online
Wales Online
Sian Harrison, PA & Benjamin Wright

Supreme Court rejects developer appeal in planning row over Snowdonia site

Controversial plans to build "executive" homes in Snowdonia have reached the end of the road after a last-ditch appeal was turned down by the UK's highest court.

Permission to build 401 homes at Balkan Hill - near Aberdyfi, in Gwynedd - had been granted back in 1967. However, since that date, only 41 houses have been built - and none of those were constructed in accordance with the original plans. There have also been various other permissions granted in relation to the site and further development has taken place without planning permission since then.

The site's current owner, Hillside Parks Ltd, wanted to build more - arguing that the permission in the 1960s was still valid. However, Snowdonia National Parks Authority refused to give permission - prompting the developer to launch a series of appeals.

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It then took its case to the High Court as well as the Court of Appeal - but lost on both occasions - before launching an appeal at the Supreme Court.

However, on Wednesday, a panel of five justices at the top UK court upheld the earlier decisions - effectively meaning that the housing plans are well and truly buried now.

Lords Sales and Leggatt, giving the ruling with which the other three judges agreed, said that development that has taken place since the grant of the original scheme has made it “physically impossible” for further development to now take place in accordance with those plans.

The judges said: “The courts below were right to hold that the 1967 permission was a permission to carry out a single scheme of development on the Balkan Hill site and cannot be construed as separately permitting particular parts of the scheme to be built alongside development on the site authorised by independent permissions.

“It is possible in principle for a local planning authority to grant a planning permission which approves a modification of such an entire scheme rather than constituting a separate permission referable just to part of the scheme. The developer has failed to show, however, that the additional planning permissions under which development has been carried out on the Balkan Hill site since 1987 should be construed in this way.

“Therefore, that development is inconsistent with the 1967 permission and has had the effect that it is physically impossible to develop the Balkan Hill site in accordance with the master plan approved by the 1967 permission, as subsequently modified down to 1987. Furthermore, other development has been carried out for which the developer has failed to show that any planning permission was obtained.

“This development also makes it physically impossible to develop the site in accordance with the master plan approved by the 1967 permission, as subsequently modified. The courts below were therefore right to dismiss the developer’s claim and this appeal must also be dismissed.”

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