The application was refused by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council in November last year on the grounds that the site was not allocated for development in local policy and it was in agricultural use. However, during the appeal inquiry the Council decided to withdraw from the appeal and no longer support its reasons for refusal.
Pickles said in his decision letter (50-page / 356KB PDF) that he agreed with a Planning Inspector's conclusions that, although the scheme would erode a green area, the harm caused would be only moderate.
He agreed that, because compensation would be provided for the modest loss of habitat the development would cause, such loss would not cause significant harm.
The SoS noted that the Council did not have a five year housing supply of land and agreed with the Inspector that the scheme's housing provision, including 15% affordable homes, counted "heavily" in favour of the scheme.
The benefits of the scheme, which also included employment opportunities and increased commercial expenditure, were considered by Pickles and the Inspector to "significantly outweigh" the green area erosion and habitat loss matters, which the Inspector said were "essentially neutral".