Pickles has approved (111-page / 1.42MB PDF) both developments at Bishop's Cleeve in Gloucestershire in order to satisfy an immediate need for housing.
Developer Comparo will build 450 dwellings, a community centre and strategic parkland. Welbeck Strategic Land will build up to 550 dwellings, a high street and community facility.
The decisions are the results of appeals by the developers and following a public inquiry which was held between September and December of last year into the failure of Tewkesbury Borough Council (TBC) to determine the applications within the prescribed period.
The Secretary of State's decision letter agreed with the Planning Inspector's recommendation that the most significant material consideration was the housing land supply, where the national policy requirement for a five year land supply could not be demonstrated against the Council's.
The Council's emerging Joint Core Strategy, which is at a very early stage, was "unlikely to rectify in time" this requirement and therefore considerable weight should be given to the matter. The proposals were deemed necessary to meet immediate housing need and the presumption in favour of sustainable development in the NPPF was applied.
The letter said that "the lack of an up to date development plan that makes provision for development needs adds weight to this matter". Pickles also noted that "weight should be given to the need to secure economic growth and employment".
Pickles considered the inspector's comments that "allowing these appeals may be seen by objectors as undermining the local democratic process and the planning system", but went on to conclude that "he [the Secretary of State] 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" and that "these proposals would not be premature".