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Pickles approves 1,200-home Harlow plans

Secretary of State Eric Pickles has granted permission for a 1,200-home development at Gilden Way in Harlow, Essex, saying the scheme would help to reduce Harlow Council's shortfall in housing supply.20 Nov 2012

The scheme, which will be delivered by a consortium of developers comprising Barratt Strategic, Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey, will see the development of 1,200 homes, a school, shops and open space.

Pickles said in his decision letter (13-page / 83KB PDF) that the Council "clearly" had a shortfall in housing supply. He said that the scheme would help increase the housing supply from the current estimate, which is between 1.31 and 3.19 years, to be between 2.08 and 3.98 years and that this was an important material consideration in light of the National Planning Policy Framework. He said the contribution the development would make to affordable housing was also a benefit.

Part of the development site, on which the developers propose to create sports pitches and allotments, falls within green belt land. Pickles said that although there would be no material change of use from agricultural land to allotments, the change of use from green belt land to sports pitches was inappropriate development. He said, however, that "very special circumstances" exist to justify the inappropriate development in the green belt.

Pickles also said that the decision should be "balanced against the clear policy requirement that the planning system should be plan led", but that it would "not accord with national policy" to wait for the Council's emerging Local Plan to be adopted.