A recent case serves as a useful reminder of the importance of careful drafting when dealing with contracts conditional upon planning.

A developer had agreed to purchase a property, conditional upon it first obtaining planning consent for the development of the site. Satisfactory planning consent was obtained, pursuant to which the developer proceeded with its purchase as required by the contract.

However, following completion of the purchase, the developer found its planning consent being overturned at judicial review. This was a risk that the contract had failed to address and which the developer’s solicitor had failed to advise upon. In light of this risk, it is only truly safe to rely upon a planning consent once the period for judicial review has passed. Failure to sit out that period might result in buyers paying over the odds for development land that cannot subsequently be developed - buyers beware!

Stoll v Wacks Caller (2009) EWHC 2299 (Ch)