Communities Secretary Eric Pickles made twice the number of planning interventions in 2014 than the previous year, it has been revealed.
The Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government made 128 planning decisions in 2014 compared to a mere 69 in 2013.
The figures, which were revealed by Planning Resource magazine, show that Pickles’ is intervening in planning decisions more often as part of his role as Secretary of State.
The figures show that Pickles approved 6,504 homes in 2014, down from 7,434 in 2013 and refused 2,610 homes in 2014, up from 1,448 in 2013. Pickles’ also intervened in disputes involving green belt land more often in the past year than before.
Among the major schemes which Pickles’ ruled on in 2014 was the contentious plans by John McAslan to redevelop the historic Smithfield site in the City of London (see AJ 08.07.14).
The Secretary of State put a halt to plans to turn the site into a new office development which had been proposed on behalf of developer Henderson Global Investors. The decision was welcomed by campaigners including SAVE Britains Heritage but was heavily criticised by the City of London, which had approved the development.
However Pickles decided not to call in other major schemes such as the Bondway skyscraper in Vauxhall, which has been dubbed the ‘Jenga Tower’ and approved plans by Squire and Partner’s plans to redevelop the Shell Centre on the South Bank.
The Secretary of State has come under under increasing pressure to act over planning issues in the past year. In July last year Labour MP Emily Thornberry wrote to Pickle’s urging him to call in the 680-home Mount Pleasant scheme by Allies and Morrison which was approved by the Mayor of London but has been fiercely opposed by local groups including Islington Council.