Hillside Parks wants to build more than 400 homes in Aberdyfi. Credit: Wikimedia user Jrfw51 via CC BY-SA 3.0, bit.ly/3nqJv0Z

Supreme Court to weigh in on 401-home Snowdonia plan

The case revolves around planning permission granted 55 years ago by a local authority that no longer exists.

Snowdonia National Park Authority, which is the current relevant planning body for the 29-acre site, has halted all work on developer Hillside Parks proposal to build 401 homes at Balkan Hill in Aberdyfi stating that the scheme’s planning permission is no longer valid.

Hillside Parks took the authority to court in 2020 over the decision, only for the judges to hold up the park’s verdict. The Supreme Court will now hear the case on 4 July.

How did we get here?

In 1967, Merioneth County Council approved John Madin’s application to build 401 homes on the Aberdyfi site. The only condition was that water supply needed to be agreed before work began.

Construction began on the first two homes soon after. However, it became apparent the site was an old quarry which necessitated some changes to the plans.

From 1967 to 1973, Merioneth County Council approved seven changes to the original planning application, mostly revolving around masterplan layouts.

In 1974, Merioneth County Council was abolished and replaced by Gwynedd County Council. Four years later, in 1978, John Madin sold the site to Landmaster Investments.

According to court documents, “a dispute arose” between Landmaster and Gwynedd County Council regarding the development in 1985, with the council arguing that the planning permission from 1967 was no longer valid.

At that time, the court agreed with Landmaster and allowed for development plans to continue.

Then, in 1988, Landmaster sold the site to Hillside Parks.

As the site owner changed for the third time, so did the local authority. Snowdonia National Park Authority became the relevant power for the site in 1996.

Hillside Parks secured planning permission for eight more departures from the 1967 masterplan between 1996 and 2011.

In 2017, things came to a head when Snowdonia National Park Authority ordered all work on the site to be stopped – saying that the 1967 planning approval was no longer valid since the subsequential departures had made it physically impossible to implement that original masterplan.

A judge agreed with the authority in 2020. It is this decision that Hillside Parks has appealed, leading for the case to be taken up by the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, local politicians Liz Saville Roberts MP and Mabon ap Gwynfor MS issued a joint statement against the Hillside Parks proposal.

“There is absolutely no demand for 400 executive homes in Aberdyfi,” they said, adding that such a development would “detrimentally change the character of the village for good”.

The politicians said that the village’s infrastructure could not support 400 new homes.

“There is nothing in this application that would suggest that this development would improve the lives of our constituents,” they concluded. “We support the local community in their opposition to this proposal and hope the Supreme Court quashes this wholly unsuitable planning application.”

The hearing for the case is scheduled to begin and finish on 4 July. Presiding justices are Lord Reed of Allermuir, Lord Briggs of Westbourne, Lord Sales, Lord Leggatt and Lady Rose of Colmworth.

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