Plans for 'new town' west of Stonehouse back on the table after local plan inquiry
PLANS for a new town on the edge of Stonehouse are back on track this week, after a three-day public examination of the local plan and a request for outline planning permission from a developer.
At the end of 2013, a proposal for the town known as Westington was assessed by SDC planning officers as being sustainable and deliverable.
It would include 1,350 homes, 9.3 hectares of employment land, a primary school, a local centre with a shop, a sports pitch and a green buffer zone.
But opposition from elected members ultimately saw the new town axed from the council’s housing strategy.
The site lies between the M5 and the railway line west of Stonehouse and had been earmarked in Stroud District Council’s emerging Local Plan which sets out the strategy for new housing, employment and community development within the district until 2031.
This week, planning inspector Stephen Pratt carried out the examination into whether the draft plan is legally compliant and sound.
An application for outline planning permission has now been submitted by planning consultants Pegasus on behalf of developers Robert Hitchins and this has raised fresh concern among opposition groups.
The opposition groups are worried the planning inspector could conclude SDC’s local plan falls short of the five year land supply and ultimately approve the development.
Local opposition group Don’t Strangle Stroud, which was set-up by residents from the neighbouring villages of Nupend and Nastend, reacted angrily to the Westington plans when they were first announced insisting the site is unsustainable and the homes are not needed.
However according to spokesman Richard James the Pegasus application does not come as a surprise.
“This application follows much work and heavy investment by the developers and the large number of houses requires a ‘strategic site’ allocation,” said Mr James.
“The council is planning for 9,500 houses in the period up to 2031 and to no one’s surprise developers want the inspector to support a much higher number - at least 11,500 plus houses.”
According to Mr James if the council’s figure of 9,500 homes is supported by the inspector then the planning application will be rejected on the grounds that there is no further requirement for such a large number of additional homes.
However if the Inspectors suggests a higher allocation than the 9,500 it will become difficult for the council to reject the application.
During a public consultation in October a spokesman for Pegasus Group said many visitors agreed that the proposals from developers Robert Hitchins made sense.
According to the firm, the proposed development would deliver a number of benefits, such as much-needed housing, together with affordable properties and numerous job opportunities.
It is estimated that after taking into account the homes which have either already been built or have planning permission in the district, space for at least 2,450 further homes will have to be found.
The local plan sets out a blueprint for 500 additional homes at Hunt’s Grove, 450 houses north east of Cam, 300 more at Sharpness, 300 in the Stroud valleys, 150 new He is expected to deliver his decision to the council by the end of May.
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