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Battle lines drawn again over homes plan for Laurie Lee's valley

By Ben_Falconer  |  Posted: May 20, 2014

Campaigners ready to fight for Baxters Field at day one of the inquiry at Stroud Subscription Rooms. Picture David Joyce

Campaigners ready to fight for Baxters Field at day one of the inquiry at Stroud Subscription Rooms. Picture David Joyce

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BATTLE lines have been drawn again in a 40-year-old struggle over land in Laurie Lee’s valley.

If developer Gladman can convince a planning inspector that Stroud District Council was wrong to block planning permission for 112 homes at Baxters Field, it can extend Stroud’s urban reach in to the Slad Valley.

Today, an independent planning inspector heard opening submissions from key players at an inquiry which will rule on Gladman’s appeal.

The Cider with Rosie author helped fend off development at the Summer Street site in 1996.

Peter Wadsley, for the council, said it is not sustainable and would harm the landscape.

Peter Goatley, for Gladman, said there is a national need for more homes and Baxters Field is a sustainable place to build.

“The case for the appeal proposal is positive,” said Mr Goatley. “The proposal comes with a number of social and economic benefits. In addition, the proposals provide for a new country park which is of benefit to the whole community, including the existing community.

“In addition, the proposals will make a significant contribution to the affordable housing need in the district by providing 30% of the homes as affordable. As well as helping to meet the council’s noted housing land supply shortfall, the provision of affordable housing, without public subsidy, is a further and important benefit in support of these proposals.”

Mr Wadsley said Gladman showed ‘misplaced developer opportunism’.

“Opportunism because current Government policy seeks to boost housing delivery and the developer seeks to take advantage of this; misplaced because the Government’s central policy, to promote sustainable development, guards our landscape and heritage,” said Mr Wadsley. “This development does not.”

He said the council refused permission because of adverse impact on the landscape including the nearby Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and harm to Listed buildings and the Top of Town Conservation Area.

Andy Dickinson of Slad Valley Action Group said it is not sustainable.

“It would be difficult to find a more iconic, more beautiful, more valued landscape in the Cotswold AONB and even within Gloucestershire than the Slad Valley,” he said. “It would be difficult to find a development location in the immediate environs of Stroud town that could create more harm than Baxters Field to that valued landscape, a landscape in which heritage and natural beauty are inextricably intertwined.”

Baxters Field has been under threat since 1975 when Bovis Homes Western lost an appeal for outline permission, and Laurie Lee backed a successful campaign to dismiss Four Oaks Developments’ outline application a year before he died.

The inquiry is expected to last for eight days.

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6 comments

  • Stroudresi  |  May 23 2014, 8:48AM

    Why not build on brownfield sites or derelict buildings in Stroud? Because that would require some genuine innovation, a true desire to provide housing suitable to the town, and less easy profit (otherwise Gladman, who proudly boast on their webiste that they specialise in getting these devlopments through, wouldn't be interested as it would in conflict with their business model). The access roads in and out of that area are small roads or lanes that will have to be expanded and ruinng the environment and feel of Stroud further – and create havoc in the mornings and evenings when people want to come to and from work. Protecting some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK and looking for genuine longterm soultions to Stroud's housing needs should not be called Nimbyism. Why does the government encourage short term solutions which offer a temporary artifical boost to the economy and that will destroy Britain's natural heritage for ever? To consider options such as Gladman's quick buck scheme as a genuine solution to contemporary housing needs when they will have such an impact on the future of UK towns and cities is shameful.

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  • Stroudresi  |  May 21 2014, 9:48PM

    Why not build on brownfield sites or derelict buildings in Stroud? Because that would require some genuine innovation, a true desire to provide housing suitable to the town, and less easy profit (otherwise Gladman who proudly boast on their webiste that they specialise in getting these devlopments through – wouldn't be interested as it would in conflict with their business model). The access roads in and out of that area are small roads or lanes that will have to be expanded and ruinng the environment and feel of Stroud further. Protecting some of the most beautiful countryside - in the UK and looking for genuine longterm soultions to Stroud's housing needs – should not be called Nimbyism. Why does the government only look for short term solutions that offer an artifical boost to the econmy that will take away British heritage for ever!

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  • JemmyWood  |  May 21 2014, 12:41PM

    Sladvalley, yes it is about NIBYism. Its NIMBYism at its most prevalent. I personally liked walking through the fields just outside Quedgeley until Stroud dumped thousands of houses from its housing allocation on them. I've read your post and think a hundred plus houses would look absolutly perfect there to be honest. Its a perfect location, as for transport links, there are roads, they are transport links.. OK... using your thinking then, rather than just seeing problems, lets have a viable solution from you then. Where near Stroud (notice I said Stroud, not Gloucester) would you put them then?

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  • sladvalley  |  May 21 2014, 10:26AM

    This is about NIMBYism. It's about protecting one of the most beautiful valleys in Gloucestershire. I suggest any critics come and look at where the developers are planning to build. Take a walk up Swifts Hill and then look across to Stroud and the Severn and imagine what a hundred + houses would look like in the valley. I'm not against house building - just that we need to put them in the right places and, in my view, that is nearer to transport links.

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  • JemmyWood  |  May 20 2014, 5:31PM

    The Stroud NIMBYs in all their own self importance. Not one of these people gave two hoots when Stroud was dumping thousands of houses from housing allocation on Quedgeley's doorstep. Now they've maxed out that card, the problem is coming home to roost. Suck it up buttercup... Its happening...... and the sooner the better.

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  • MentalBeaver  |  May 20 2014, 4:17PM

    Well, the outskirts of Gloucester are pretty much full up now so guess where new houses under Stroud Town Council are going to be built next.

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