MP and Senedd Member call on Supreme Court to quash historic Snowdonia housing application

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Left, Mabon ap Gwynfor. Supreme Court photo by David Iliff. License: CC BY-SA 3.0.

An MP and Senedd Member have called on the Supreme Court to quash a historic application to build over 400 houses in Snowdonia.

The Supreme Court will decide in the landmark case which has pitted Snowdonia National Park against a housing developer next week.

Hillside Parks Ltd is appealing to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal decided in Snowdonia National Park’s favour in 2020.

The details of the case go all the way back to 1967 when then Merioneth County Council granted planning permission for the development of 401 houses on a site in Snowdonia National Park in Aberdyfi.

In 2019, Hillside Parks Ltd, which now owned the Site, brought a claim against the National Park Authority in order to ascertain whether the scheme of development authorised in 1967 could still lawfully be completed.

But MP Liz Saville Roberts and Senedd Member Mabon ap Gwynfor said there was “absolutely no demand for 400 executive homes in Aberdyfi” and that the application would “simply line the pockets of greedy developers”.

“This proposed overdevelopment would bring no benefit to the local community, in fact, it would detrimentally change the character of the village for good,” they said.

“Apart from the obvious negative impact on community life — local services such as schools, GP surgeries and the transport network are completely insufficient to accommodate such an unsuitable development. The infrastructure of Aberdyfi simply could not cope if this excessive number of new houses was permitted.

“Neither the water supply nor the sewage system is sufficient, and the road network would be overwhelmed by both construction and extra traffic.

“What we need in Aberdyfi and elsewhere in Meirionnydd is social housing to meet the specific needs of our local communities. There is nothing in this application that would suggest that this development would improve the lives of our constituents.

“We support the local community in their opposition to this proposal and hope the Supreme Court quashes this wholly unsuitable planning application.”

‘Troubling’

The case concerns a site comprising 28.89 acres of land at Balkan Hill, Aberdyfi, and will be heard by Lord Reed, Lord Briggs, Lord Sales, Lord Leggatt, Lady Rose.

The National Park Authority successfully argued in the High Court and Court of Appeal that the developers could not lawfully be completed.

They argued that permissions granted after 1967 were inconsistent with the original plan. In particular, roads had been built in areas designated for houses, and houses had been built in areas designated for roads.

The High Court and the Court of Appeal decided in the National Park Authority’s favour, but Hillside is now appealing to the Supreme Court in the hearing which is due to start next Monday, on July 4.

Their judgement could have a far-reaching impact as it raises the issue of whether developers nullify the original planning permission if they make subsequent tweaks with other planning applications.

Cornerstone Barristers, a leading London chambers which specialises in planning and housing, told the Telegraph newspaper that the case raises “troubling questions” when dealing with developments involving hundreds of houses, such as “whether a relatively minor deviation in one house should render every other house unlawful”.

If the Supreme Court decides in the National Park Authority’s favour, it would set a legal precedent for other courts below the Supreme Court which would mean that developers who use additional planning applications could risk invalidating the original plan.


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