CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for a housing development near Stonehouse have been given a boost after MP Neil Carmichael asked a Parliamentary question on their behalf.

Members of Don't Strangle Stroud have repeatedly claimed that proposals to site 1,500 homes in Nupend and Nastend should be shelved because Stroud District Council has overestimated the number of houses it needs to build.

The group believes SDC's figures are wrong because it has relied on figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which have consistently proven incorrect.

And now the group has been given more than a glimmer of hope after a junior minister in the department revealed that local authorities were under no obligation to use these figures to determine future housing requirements.

Responding to a Parliamentary question from Mr Carmichael, junior minister Nicholas Boles MP said it was the responsibility of local authorities to identify 'the scale and mix of housing that the local population is likely to need which meets household and population projections'.

"The DCLG does not undertake central assessment of the data used by local planning authorities to inform local decisions on identifying housing need," Mr Boles added.

Rather than adopting the department's 'average household size figures', DSS is calling for SDC to use Census data to calculate housing requirements instead.

The group says the Census data on average household size is more accurate than the DCLG's figures.

DSS say that if SDC used the Census data it would need to build at least 2,000 fewer homes in the coming years - making the development near Stonehouse unnecessary.

SDC's Local Plan contains proposals for between 6,881 and 9,121 homes by 2031 - but campaigners are demanding these figures are revised down.

"The council has started with figures which are inaccurate to begin with and has consistently been proven wrong by Census data," said DSS member Richard James.

While the 2011 Census figures for the average household size in England and Wales are now available, a spokesman for SDC said the latest data giving a breakdown at district level had yet to be released.

"The Census figures for district level come out in November and the plan is to look at them then because we have said that we are willing to look at all relevant data up until the last minute," he said.

A vote on whether to adopt the Local Plan is due to take place during a meeting at Ebley Mill on Wednesday, October 3 at 7pm.