THE QUESTION of what to do with a plot of land by the canal in Stonehouse now faces two councils and a newly formed community group.

Stroud District Council’s plan for nine affordable houses on the former site of the Ship Inn off Bristol Road was rejected by its councillors on planning last month.

Those in favour had pointed to the council’s long waiting list for social housing, but such arguments lost out to conservation concerns and the protests of neighbours fearing Stonehouse was about to lose a prime spot for taking advantage of the canal with, for instance, a cafe.

Since the decision, the council has withdrawn the application to consider “other options” - and residents have formed a group, the Ship Inn Project Stonehouse (ShIPS) to come up with their own ideas.

“We’re working towards a compromise. We don’t want to be at loggerheads with the district council” a spokesperson for ShIPS said.

“One councillor accused us of making mischief and that’s just not true. This is democracy."

When asked about this new group, a district council spokesman said: “The application was withdrawn while options for the site are considered.

Gloucestershire County Council gave Stroud District Council three sites valued at £1million, as a contribution towards the canal project. The Ship Inn site was valued at £0.5million, and was sold on to the housing service for affordable homes.

“Unfortunately this is the only land Stroud District Council owns in Stonehouse where we can build 9 affordable homes. Our next step will be to approach Stonehouse Town Council and the wider community and hear their proposals.”

The spokesperson for ShIPS said in response: “We welcome SDC’s move for consultation and look forward to see what they do next.

“However ShIPS was somewhat surprised to see the plan has been withdrawn after the planning committee had voted to reject it.”

This is not the first time a plan for the site has stalled.

Back in 2002, the county council still owned the land and tried to build houses there itself. But its application was rejected - twice, once on appeal.