Inside Housing.co.uk’s take on the Glebelands Appeal and the Secretary of State’s decision was covered under the header “Pickles blocks Essex green belt development.”
“ Eric Pickles has blocked a green belt development overturning a planning inspectorate decision it should go ahead to combat a ‘severe lack’ of housing.
The communities secretary said allowing the homes to be built would ‘undermine’ green belt national policy.
The application to build 165 homes on green belt land near Thundersley in Essex was originally rejected by Castle Point Council.
Developer Fox Land and Property successfully appealed to inspector John Felgate after he ruled there was a severe lack of housing supply in the area.
But in a letter sent on behalf of Mr Pickles on Wednesday he disagreed with the inspector’s decision and rejected the appeal.
While the letter acknowledged there was a ‘severe lack of forward housing land supply’ in the area the development would represent ‘a considerable level of harm’ to the character, openness and appearance of the green belt land.
It added: ‘In light of all material considerations in this case the secretary of state is concerned that a decision to allow this appeal for housing in the green belt risks setting an undesirable precedent for similar developments which would seriously undermine national green belt policy.’
The development would have provided 35 per cent affordable housing, 58 units which the secretary of state conceded would ‘represent a substantial benefit’ to the area.
In Mr Felgate’s inspection, he concluded: ‘On the one hand is the harm to the green belt. On the other, there is the severe lack of a forward housing land supply; the acute shortage of affordable housing; the council’s very poor track record in delivering all forms of housing in the past; the past failures of the development plan process in the area, and consequent delays in the release of land through that route; the acknowledged need to release green belt land; and the suitability and availability of the appeal site.
‘In the light of all the evidence, I find that these latter considerations together clearly outweigh the harm to the green belt, thus constituting very special circumstances of the kind needed to justify development in the green belt.’
Martyn Twigg, planning project director at Fox Land and Property, said: ‘We are very disappointed that the secretary of state disagreed with his own inspector.
‘We are considering the decision in detail.’ Mr Twigg did not comment on whether the company would pursue further action.
Pam Challis, leader of Castle Point Council, said: ‘The council is delighted that the minister has accepted the council’s position that this proposal is unwelcome and inappropriate development in the green belt.
‘The council will now consider carefully the full report of both the planning inspector and this important decision of the minister to ensure that we are fully prepared for any further similar challenges.’ “
The article drew a comment from reader Chris: “ Meanwhile, in neighbouring Basildon District acres of designated housing land remains undeveloped because it is political disadvantageous to the ruling party to allow it to be developed. Even after converting a large proportion of the land for warehousing (despite there being vacant commercial units already in the area) there still remains significant tracts of land in Basildon that has remained undeveloped despite being identified for housing decades ago.
This is next door to Mr Pickles own consitutuency. The land has planning permission granted by the Secretary of State. It is in his back yard. Yet it remains undeveloped in an areas crying out for new homes.
And the icing on the cake – the land is owned by the DCLG!!! “