Developer J S Bloor can now go ahead with the mixed-use scheme which will comprise up to 800 homes, retail space, a primary school, green open space and new highway infrastructure. The development will be located adjacent to Anne Hathaway's Cottage, the house where William Shakespeare's wife was brought up.
Pickles said in his decision letter (178-page / 1.56MB PDF) that although there were "material considerations" weighing against the proposal, such as "impact on the landscape, less than substantial harm to the significance of heritage assets, visual impact and harm from noise", this was outweighed by factors in favour of the development, such as "helping to meet a significant unmet housing need in a sustainable location, new green infrastructure and local facilities."
J S Bloor first submitted its plans to Stratford-on-Avon District Council in October 2009. The Council refused the application in September 2011, saying it considered the proposed housing density too high for the development's rural setting. It also said the development would cause "unacceptable visual harm" and that such a large scale development and resulting loss of farmland would be detrimental to the character and appearance of the "urban-rural fringe" in the area.
Pickles had been expected to make his decision on the appeal on 11 October, however, this was delayed. The reason for the delay has not been made public.
“We are delighted with today’s announcement and it brings to an end almost ten years of discussion and debate about the need for much-needed housing in the area around Stratford-on-Avon,” said Bloor spokesman David Joseph according to reports. “These plans for West Stratford accord with the Government’s drive to build new homes."