On 2 November 2022 the Supreme Court will give judgment in Hillside Parks Ltd v Snowdonia National Park Authority.
This case, although based on a peculiar (if not unique) set of facts and giving rise to an unusual dispute between the National Park as planning authority and the landowners over the validity of a very old planning permission, has caused widespread concern as it calls into question the impact of drop-in consents on the lawfulness of earlier, often wider, planning permissions. Drop-in consents are intended to modify part of an already approved development, eg by changing layouts or numbers of units.
Not only has doubt been raised over whether further development under an earlier consent can still be lawful if a drop in consent is implemented on part, but also comments made by the Court of Appeal left unanswered the question of whether development already carried out under a partially implemented earlier consent could retrospectively become unlawful as a result of implementing a later drop-in consent on another part of a site.
It is possible that the Supreme Court will make its decision by only looking very narrowly at the issues necessary to decide this case but that would leave much uncertainty over the impact of drop-in consents generally. It is hoped therefore that the Supreme Court will address comprehensively the issues raised by the Court of Appeal which are having a significant impact on the implementation of schemes, where modifications of development layouts and design proposals over a period of time are commonplace.
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.