PLANS to build 150 homes in Leonard Stanley are now in the hands of an independent planning inspector, following a public inquiry.

The four-day planning inquiry began on Tuesday, April 29, at the council chamber in Ebley Mill, Stroud.

In March, Stroud District Council’s development control committee unanimously refused an application by developers Gladman to build on the site, known locally as Mankley Field.

Although it had been recommended for approval by planning officers at SDC the committee members found new reasons for refusal and voted against the recommendation.

Following the refusal, Gladman’s lodged an appeal, leaving the final decision in the hands of planning inspector David Nicholson.

One of the main issues surrounding the application was a debate about whether or not the Stroud district has a five-year land supply.

Gladman’s representatives argued that Stroud District Council was unable to prove it had a sufficient land supply, due to the fact that it does not have a local plan in place – it is currently being reviewed by a planning inspector and the decision is due to be with the council by the end of May.

There has been a fierce local campaign to stop the Mankley Field application, including 260 letters of objection and a petition with more than 1,000 signatures, since the original plans were submitted last year.

During last Wednesday’s session, Mr Nicholson gave interested parties the opportunity to present their statements to the inquiry.

A spokesman from the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Gloucestershire branch and representatives from local campaign groups Don’t Strangle Stroud and Mankley Field Action Group all made statements urging the inspector to turn down the appeal.

Their calls were echoed by Leonard Stanley parish clerk Irena Litton, who argued that building 150 homes on Mankley field would force the two villages to become one.

She told the inspector that Leonard Stanley and King’s Stanley were “individual communities with many differences and separate identities” including fighting on opposite sides during the Civil War.

District councillor for the Stanleys, Nigel Studdert-Kennedy and Green Party candidate for the Stanleys Nicola Hillary also spoke oposing the development.

Mr Nicholson also conducted his own site visit as part of the inquiry before hearing closing arguments on Friday morning.

According to a spokesman for SDC, his decision should be back with the council within eight weeks.