CAMPAIGNERS against initial plans for up to 150 new homes in fields off Summer Street in Stroud met with town councillors to express their opposition.

Cheshire-based Gladman Developments has revealed designs for a mix of one to four bedroom homes on the prominent 15.5 acre site - known locally as Baxters Field - which enjoys breathtaking views across the Slad Valley.

Members of Slad Action Group attended a meeting of Stroud Town Council on Monday night to help prepare a list of possible environmental impacts the development could have on the landscape.

The exercise, known as screening, often precedes the submission of a planning application and will be considered by Stroud District Council prior to making a decision.

Among the key concerns cited by councillors in their draft response is the fact that the site lies outside the urban settlement boundary for Stroud and is wholly within the Cotswold AONB.

Concerns were also raised about the prominent visual impact the development will likely have on the landscape and the threat to flooding it could pose as water run-off from the steep sloping site joins the already flood-prone Slad Brook.

Campaigners added that the privately-owned field, which is currently used for grazing, is a haven for a wealth of wildlife, including bats, deer and badgers and suggestions were made that the valley could be home to a pair of nesting red kites.

The group - supported by members of Save Slad and Uplands from Development, who successfully campaigned to halt plans for 50 new homes in nearby Wades Farm last year - also warned that the surrounding road infrastructure would buckle under the added traffic generated by the development.

Draft designs by Gladman circulated at the meeting promise a 'high-quality, sustainable, safe and attractive' development, incorporating a range of linked townhouses and detached properties that 'respond to local housing needs'.

But Geof Murray, chairman of the Stroud district Campaign to Protect Rural England, who was also present, warned councillors that the developer would try to take advantage of SDC's current lack of a five-year housing plan to force the plans through.

The council resolved to employ a planning consultant to help shape its official response to a planning application, should one be submitted.