STROUD District Council’s leader has hit back at claims that the council is to blame for paving the way for developers to enter the district.

Stroud MP Neil Carmichael made the comments when praising the work of communities in Dursley, Chalford and Eastington in compiling neighbourhood plans.

During a debate in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael asked Nick Boles, Minister for Planning, whether he agreed that neighbourhood plans were an “appropriate protector against inappropriate developments.”

Speaking following the debate, Mr Carmichael said: “Neighbourhood plans are crucial in giving communities a strong voice to choose what, and where, development takes place within their area.

“I am delighted that Chalford, Eastington and Dursley, among other communities, have taken the initiative, and hope that more will follow suit.

“SDC’s failure to prepare a local plan has opened the door to developers, but by adopting a neighbourhood plan communities can keep large-scale developments in unwanted areas at bay.”

He referred specifically to a development at Mankley Field which residents in Kings Stanley and Leonard Stanley are currently opposing.

Cllr Geoff Wheeler, leader of SDC, told the Gazette: “It is disappointing to see Stroud’s MP’s latest attempt to discredit the council and disingenuously imply that we are to blame for not being able to defend against major planning applications such as the one at Mankley Field.

“He conveniently overlooks that Stroud is in fact the first of the six Gloucestershire districts to submit its local plan to the secretary of state for examination.

“He also omits to state that Stroud was well advanced in its preparation of its core strategy when the goal posts were moved by the current government which revoked planning policies and introduced the National Planning Policy Framework reintroducing the requirement for full local plans to be prepared.

“Mr Carmichael conveniently ignores his government’s influence on the outcome of these planning applications.

Cllr Wheeler continued: “With respect to neighbourhood plans, he appears a little out of touch because there are seven communities currently developing local plans and at the moment Chalford has not yet put its hat in the ring.”