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Pickles allows appeals for 1,050 new homes in north east England

Secretary of state for communities and local government (SoS) Eric Pickles has allowed two appeals that will together permit the development of 1,046 new homes on sites in north east England.

Developer Persimmon Homes applied to North Tyneside Council (NTC) in December for permission to build a development with 650 homes, 400 square metres of shopping space and a 318 sq m health centre on open land to the north east of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

NTC refused permission and the developer's subsequent appeal was recovered for determination by the SoS in January 2014. Inspector Richard Clegg recommended that the appeal be allowed and permission be granted for the plans. In a letter dated 15 December (54-page / 733 KB PDF), the SoS agreed with the inspector's recommendation and granted full planning permission for the 225-home first phase of the development and outline permission for the remaining 425 homes.

Pickles agreed with the inspector that local planning policy safeguarding the 19 hectare site from development was out of date, as the plan period to which it applied ended in 2006. The SoS found that the proposals would have "certain adverse effects on the character and appearance of the area" but the only significant adverse effect would be on the setting of nearby Rising Sun Hill.

Allowing the appeal, Pickles applied significant weight to the contribution the proposals would make towards housing supply in an area without a demonstrable five year supply of housing land. He also gave importance to the economic benefits of the scheme and to proposed improvements to two local parks, but found that limited weight could be attached to the benefits of providing affordable housing in the absence of a planning obligation guarantee.

The SoS also allowed an appeal (127-page / 1.1 MB PDF) by three housebuilders against a failure by Northumberland County Council (NCC) to decide an application for the development of 396 houses on land outside the settlement boundary of Morpeth. Pickles agreed with inspector Pete Drew that very limited weight could be applied to local policies restricting development beyond the settlement boundaries, in light of NCC's inability to demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing land.

The SoS found that the proposals would cause localised harm to the appearance of the area and noted the conflict with out-of-date policies. However, Pickles decided that the adverse impacts of granting permission did not outweigh the "clear and multiple benefits", which he said included the provision of "a substantial amount of market housing"; economic and social benefits, including affordable housing provision; proposed improvements to the flooding situation downstream of the development site; and net benefits to the ecology of the area.

The respective councils, or any other interested parties, have six weeks to challenge either decision in the High Court.

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