AMBITIOUS plans which will shape the development of Stroud town centre for the next 20 years have been completed.

Stroud Town Council has now submitted the Neighbourhood Development Plan to Stroud District Council (SDC).

The draft report focuses on three key themes – making Stroud town centre more welcoming, healthy and thriving.

These include: improving the ‘gateways’ to the town centre, making the streets more cyclist and pedestrian friendly, providing opportunities for more housing and encouraging investment in good quality retail, service and office facilities.

It is the first Neighbourhood Development Plan to be submitted to the district council and follows a consultation of more than 2,500 people.

The plan will cover the town centre including Merrywalks, the Cheapside area and the main gateways into the town.

Town Mayor Kevin Cranston said: “The Plan, once approved, will become a powerful tool for people to influence future development of our town.

“The results we believe reflect a vision for a town centre that is attractive, sustainable and vibrant.

“Unlike previous plans for the town this will have legal force and STC is determined that it is used to help develop the town centre as our residents want to see it.”

The plan has been praised by businesses and organisations including Historic England, the Federation of Small Businesses and the County Council.

“This is a most impressive document – arguably the most impressive of the many Plans in the south west we have seen – not only for the depth, detail of consideration and comprehensiveness of its general scope, but especially for its grasp of what makes the area locally distinctive and how this should both inform, and be respected in, proposals for change,” said an advisor for Historic England.

SDC will now hold another six-week consultation period. It will also organise an independent examination of the plan to check that it has been prepared properly.

Once that is done residents of Stroud parish on the electoral register will be able to vote on the plan in a referendum next year.

When it is completed and approved by the community, the plan will become a statutory planning document that can be used to support or challenge planning applications.