Pickles approves 1,000 Gloucestershire homes

The communities secretary Eric Pickles has granted approval for two developments comprising up to 1,000 homes in Gloucestershire, warning that communities have 'responsibility to ensure that local plans are prepared expeditiously'.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles
In a decision letter issued this week, Pickles granted permission for two developments at Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire - one of up to 450 homes and another of up to 550 dwellings.

Tewkesbury Borough Council had failed to determine the applications "within the prescribed period", the decision letter said, which had prompted developers Comparo and Welbeck Strategic Land to appeal.

The secretary of state’s decision letter said that the most significant material consideration is the requirement for a five-year housing land supply, which he said the emerging joint core strategy for the area is "unlikely to rectify in time".

The letter said that the "lack of an up-to-date development plan that makes provision for development needs adds weight to this matter". It added that "weight should be given to the need to secure economic growth and employment".

Pickles noted the inspector’s comments that allowing the appeals "may be seen by objectors as undermining the local democratic process and the planning system".

But the decision letter added: "He [Pickles] is clear that the changes to the planning system that give communities more say over the scale, location and timing of developments in their areas carry with them the responsibility to ensure that local plans are prepared expeditiously to make provision for the future needs of their areas."

The decision letter said that granting permission for the proposals would not be premature as the emerging joint core strategy is at a "very early stage and little weight can be attached to it".

John Baird, planning partner at law firm Osborne Clarke, part of the team which advised Welbeck Strategic Land, along with Star Planning, Peter Brett Associates and Ian Dove QC of No5 Chambers, said: "This decision by the secretary of state is significant as it states in a direct and forthright manner that localism does not mean a council can ignore their obligation to prepare local plans on time or ignore their duty to meet identified housing needs."

Planning consultancy Origin3 led Comparo's appeal.

The decision letter (DCS Number 100-078-098) can be purchased from DCS Ltd, call 01452 835820 or email dcs@haymarket.com.