A would-be developer who spent much time and effort obtaining planning permission to convert an office block into flats will receive nothing for its trouble after the High Court ruled that the vendor was entitled to withdraw from the £1.3 million sale.
The sale of the property was conditional on the developer obtaining planning consent and the agreement was subject to a ‘long-stop date’ by which it was envisaged that the purchase would be completed. That date came and went before the developer sought an extension of time. The vendor refused that request and said that he regarded the contract as terminated with immediate effect.
The relevant local authority granted planning permission the following month and the developer claimed contractual entitlement to complete the purchase. Its sense of chagrin was increased by the fact that the planning consent that it had managed to obtain related to the building and thus benefited the vendor.
In dismissing the developer’s arguments, however, the Court preferred the vendor’s interpretation of the ‘poorly drafted’ agreement. His reading of the document made ‘business common sense’ and the contract had thus lawfully been terminated. The Court declared that he was free to deal with the property as he chose.