LABOUR members and nearby protest groups have met with the shadow planning minister to lobby her over the influx of housing in the area.

MP for Durham Roberta Blackman-Woods is the Shadow Communities and Local Government Minister, the opposing member for MP Eric Pickles.

She visited Kingshill House in Dursley, giving a speech to fellow Labour members as well as local campaign groups before visiting Littlecombe development site, where 650 houses are being built.

Speaking to the Gazette afterwards, Mrs Blackman-Woods said was told about Stroud District Council’s problems in defending refused large housing applications when they are appealed.

The problem stems from the council not having a recognised plan for building sufficient amount of houses in the district, so developers find it easier to get plans through, such as the 71-house development on Box Road in Cam.

The newly-installed National Planning Policy Framework gives the overriding concern to building more houses, something critics say is specifically for the advantage of developers.

“I am concerned about this because it is taking the power away from local councils and local people and the ability to develop their own community,” she said.

“The plan is well advanced here and they have got housing numbers and they want to to develop the area and we should allow them to do that.

“We think the system needs to be people-led. We’re not playing to get rid of it but we want parts of it changed.”

The member in opposition said she was also seeking to put more emphasis on brownfield sites – areas that have been used for construction before rather than building on untarnished green field sites.

“We’re supportive of the Government on the neighbourhood plans but we want to make it more integrated with the NPPF so communities do have a final say and want to look at how communities are funded,” she said.

“Because they need to have a say in what their community will be like in 10 years time.”

Neighbourhood plans are allow towns and parishes to create their own future outline for their area, which can be considered when planning applications are brought forward, but critics claim not enough weight is put behind these plans.