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.