TAXPAYERS could have to stump up around £15,000 if a developer seeks planning permission to build homes at Baxter's Field in Stroud.
The sum would be needed to cover the costs of bringing in outside expertise to properly assess the planning application - the head of planning at Stroud District Council, Phillip Skill, told the SNJ.
Cheshire-based developer Gladman has unveiled proposals to build 150 houses on a 15.5 acre tract of land off Summer Street even though the site is not one of those identified by the district council for future development.
"We would have to bring in specialists if an application is submitted because we do not have the expertise to deal with it in house," said Mr Skill.
"It is very expensive to employ these consultants and it could cost us between £8-15,000 to deal with the application."
Eric Jarrett, the founder of Slad Valley Action Group, which is fighting the plans, believes legislation needs to be brought in to discourage developer's from submitting speculative planning applications in these kinds of cases.
"There are sites identified for houses but unfortunately this particular developer does not want to build elsewhere simply because they can make more profit by destroying the English countryside," he said.
Although Stroud District Council has decided on its 'preferred sites' for housing, it has yet to formally adopt them.
That situation leaves the authority in 'limbo' and potentially vulnerable to opportunistic developers, according to Mr Skill.
Gladman has said the proposals seek to address the acute shortage of housing in Stroud, particularly the shortage of affordable homes.
A company spokesman also said it considered the site one of the few suitable for development in the district because it lies outside the Cotswold AONB and he pointed out that Gladman had to pay a fee of several thousand pounds to submit a planning application.
The company has launched a website - www.your-views.co.uk/stroud - to provide details of the plans and to give residents an opportunity to comment on them before any planning application is submitted.
Last week Laurie Lee's widow voiced her opposition to the plans, saying her late husband would have been 'horrified' by the proposed development.
Campaigners say the houses would blight views of the surrounding Slad Valley - immortalised in Cider With Rosie.