THE need for local and neighbourhood plans was the main topic for discussion when shadow minister Roberta Blackman-Woods visited Stroud this morning, Friday.

Mrs Blackman-Woods, the shadow minister for Communities and Local Government, stopped off in Leonard Stanley to visit the site where developers Gladman want to build 150 homes.

The controversial plans to build 150 homes in Mankley Field were unanimously thrown out by Stroud District Council’s development control committee last month – after initially being recommended for approval by officers.

It was the second planning application submitted for the site.

SDC also unanimously rejected the original proposal in September last year after it received 259 letters of objection and a petition with more than 1,000 signatures – however the developers re-submitted an amended application.

Gladman has now officially lodged an appeal against the decision which will be decided by a planning inspector.

The Mankley Field application highlighted a number of issues with the national planning policy which local residents claimed ‘left the council in a position where they could no longer defend the development'.

Anger was also expressed over the lack of a local plan – which residents believed could have protected the site if it had been in place.

Mrs Blackman-Woods spent the day visiting campaign groups in Dursley but stopped off in Leonard Stanley on route.

Speaking to the SNJ she said it wasn’t the NPPF that let down Mankley Field campaigners it was the fact that there was neither a local plan nor neighbourhood plan in place.

“One of the things we as Labour want to do is integrate local planning into neighbourhood planning so that they link up,” she added.

“We want to put local communities in the driving seat which will allow us to build from the bottom up.

“These communities can then decide not only where houses should go but also the infrastructure needed to support any new housing such as roads and schools.”

When asked about the NPPF Mrs Blackman-Woods said it was ‘not the problem’.

“The problem is that local parish councils do not have the confidence or the recourses to put together a neighbourhood plan and as a result people are unfairly criticising the NPPF when their community comes under threat from unwanted developments," she said.

“Personally I would like to see the money spent on the numerous rounds of consultation for a local plan instead used to help parish and town councils get their own neighbourhood plans in place.

“Then they will be in a position to have a significant impact on planning decisions in their communities.”