Eric Pickles has overturned a planning refusal for Lancashire developer Kensington PT Partnership in one of the first cases using the National Planning Policy Framework.
Pickles allowed an appeal and granted outline permission for 1,150 homes on green belt land off Queensway in St Annes. Permission was granted for the construction of a new highway at the same time.
In his 146-page decision letter, Pickles said Fylde council only had 1.4 years of housing supply identified against an NPPF requirement to have five years housing supply.
The NPPF's 'presumption in favour of sustainable development' therefore took effect, Pickles decided. He also gave weight to the public benefits of the link road to the A55 proposed by Kensington. The road had previously been granted planning permission by Fylde but the consent had lapsed. Kensington's initial application for 350 homes was refused by Fylde but the developer increased the application to 1,150 units when the NPPF set out the five-year requirement of which Fylde was so far short. Fylde also did not have a Local Plan in place, another requirement of NPPF.
Pickles concluded that both Kensington schemes 'are in accordance with national policy including the National Planning Policy Framework'.
Pickles had previously refused an application by Kensington PT for residential development on the site, on the grounds of prematurity because Fylde was still drawing up its Local Plan.
The High Court later quashed the decision because Pickles had attached little weight to the Regional Spatial Strategies.
The developer was represented by John Holmes, head of planning at law firm Hill Dickinson, who explained the case as part of his presentation at yesterday's annual Hill Dickinson Developers' Conference attended by 120 people at Chester Zoo.
Holmes was one of four expert speakers from Hill Dickinson at the half-day event. Alan Pugh, partner in construction, reviewed changes brought about by the Construction Act in October 2011, outlined issues of copyright and potential conflicts for people using Building Information Modelling, as well as updates on the Green Deal, Building Regulations and recent case law.
Ralph Bullivant, head of property litigation, ran through the pitfalls of adverse possession by squatters and gave practical steps a landowner can take to avoid potential difficulties.
Bill Chandler, legal director in property, summarised issues around options to buy a site and how to prevent rival developers from stealing your opportunity, with a look at recent court decisions over development options.
This was the fifth annual Hill Dickinson Developers' Conference. The presentations were followed by dinner at Oakfield Manor and a guided tour led by zoo keepers.