Snowdonia (poster)

Can conflicting planning permissions be developed in harmony?

This was a question recently considered by the Supreme Court in London.  

Background

In 1967, full planning permission was granted for the development of 401 homes on 29 acres of Snowdonia National Park. Ownership of the site has since changed hands twice and now rests with the Developer. 

The identity of the local authority has also changed over the years and is currently the Respondent.  

The original permission has been varied numerous times. To date, only 41 homes have been built. The Developer now seeks to rely on that original permission. This point was previously litigated in the Developer’s favour in 1987 with a declaration that development under the original permission could be completed “at any time in the future”.  

Judgment

It is established that two inconsistent permissions can be granted, with a developer deciding which to implement. Where there has been development under one permission, it will be a question as to whether any development under an alternate permission remains physically possible on site.  

In the instant case, the developments at the site since the 1987 declaration mean that the 1967 permission has been rendered incapable of further implementation.

The Developer’s appeal was dismissed.

Levelling-up 

[25] …the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill currently before Parliament will, if enacted, insert a new section 73B into the [Town and Country Planning] 1990 Act giving the local planning authority power to grant a planning permission that varies an existing permission but only if the local planning authority is satisfied that “its effect will not be substantially different from that of the existing permission”.

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