RESIDENTS of Berkeley and Sharpness have slammed development plans for the area, following the publication of Stroud District Council’s draft Local Plan.

Neil Leighton, a member of Berkeley and Sharpness Residents’ Action Group said: “Despite the overwhelming opposition in the last consultation round to the plans for the Berkeley and Sharpness area, nothing has been changed in the draft plan.

"In fact, the number of houses proposed for the area in the plan has now almost doubled to 5,000 (up to 2050).

"This will, in effect, create a town the size of Dursley."

The draft Local Plan was approved by the council’s Environment Committee on Thursday, October 24, and will now go forward for another round of consultation, which should begin by the end of this month, or the start of December.

This follows on from the Emerging Strategy and consultation round at the end of last year.

In response to the group’s concerns, Cllr Simon Pickering, Environment Committee chair, said: “The Draft Local Plan sets out a new settlement at Sharpness providing secondary and primary schools, facilities including retail and community uses, a new railway station, green infrastructure, and a nature reserve which will benefit existing communities too.

“An effective policy framework and master planning can both safeguard the character of existing villages and hamlets, as well as provide new cycling and walking links to new facilities.

“Providing good transport links is crucial, and transport modelling is underway to ensure the strategic and local road network can be upgraded where necessary. A new railway link is being pursued and is considered critical to the success of the development.

"There are ongoing discussions with Network Rail, the site promoters and the County Council.

“District wide, the draft plan aims to match employment with housing growth, so that people have the opportunity to live close to where they work. Active travel measures and alternatives to the use of the private car are encouraged.

"To this end we have set aside 61 hectares of land for employment use (offices, light industrial and warehousing) across the District.

“Stroud District Council is under significant pressure from Government to allocate land for development up to 2040 – if we do not, the council could lose some control of the planning process to Government.

“Because much of the district is covered by the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the east and floodplain to the west, there are challenges in finding room for the number of homes we have been told to allocate for.

"The committee approved the latest round of extensive consultation, which will open next month and I would urge everyone to have their say.

"There will be more consultation before the plan is adopted, and the public will be able to comment on any planning applications if and when they come forward.”