Aberdyfi homes row to be heard in Supreme Court

An historic row over a housing application to build 401 “executive” homes in Snowdonia seaside village is set to come before the Supreme Court

By Dale Spridgeon   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Wednesday 29th June 2022 9:00 am
Aberdyfi has one of the highest percentages of second homes and some of the highest house prices in Wales ()

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In a potential landmark case, Hillside Parks Developments Ltd is appealing to be allowed to build open market houses in Aberdyfi.

It is fighting to overthrow a previous decision by the Snowdonia National Park Authority halting the plans.

A judgement in the case could have far-reaching implications for other developers, as it raises the issue of whether an original planning permission can be cancelled out  by making subsequent tweaks to further planning applications.

The area concerns 28.89 acres of land in the Balkan Hill area.  The  site has been owned by a number of investment firms since the 1960s.

The case dates back to 1967, when a housing  application was first made under the old Merioneth County Council.

It granted planning permission for 401 dwellings within the Snowdonia National Park.

According to the Supreme Court’s case summary, between 1967 and 1973, seven further grants of planning permission at the site were made – but each “departed” from the original scheme.

Gwynedd County Council became the planning authority in 1974,  In 1987,  it argued in proceedings brought in the High Court by Landmaster Investments Ltd, then site owners owners, that the original 1967 permission had “lapsed”.

A High Court hearing rejected that decision, deciding the development authorised by the 1967 permission could still lawfully be completed.

When Snowdonia National Park Authority became the relevant local planning authority in 1996, eight more grants of planning permission were made between 1996 and 2011.

In 2019, then owners Hillside Parks Ltd, brought a claim against the Authority, to find out whether the development authorised by the 1967 permission could still lawfully be completed.

However, the  High Court and the Court of Appeal found  in favour of the Authority.

Hillside is now appealing, and the case will be heard  in front of Lord Reed, Lord Briggs, Lord Sales, Lord Leggatt and Lady Rose in the Supreme Court on Monday, 4 July.

The row has prompted residents to air their views on Aberdyfi’s  Community Hub Facebook page, some citing concerns over the size of the development, others pressure on infrastructure, whilst others recalled the previous court cases.

Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP/AS Liz Saville Roberts has also raised objecting saying there was “absolutely no demand for 400 executive homes in Aberdyfi, simply to line the pockets of greedy developers.”

“These are market houses, targeted at people with money,” she said.

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

“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 are in full support of the local community in their opposition to this proposal and hope the Supreme Court quashes this wholly unsuitable planning application once and for all.”

A spokesperson for the Snowdonia National Park Authority said: “On 4 July 4, the Supreme Court will hear a case relating to a historical planning consent on the site of Hillside Parks Ltd, Aberdyfi.

“As it is a live case, it is not appropriate for us as an authority to comment at present.  We will issue a formal statement in response to the court’s ruling in due course.”

See this week’s Cambrian News for the full reaction to the case.

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