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Slad Valley planning decision a fantastic victory for local countryside campaign

25 July 2014

CPRE and CPRE Gloucestershire are delighted that the planning inspector has upheld the Stroud District Council’s decision to reject a housing development in the Slad Valley.

After a determined campaign by local residents and CPRE Gloucestershire against Gladman Developments’ plans to build 112 homes on Baxter’s Fields, the planning inspector has agreed that the addition of housing “would not be so great a benefit as to outweigh the disruption to the landscape quality of the valley” and rejected two Gladman appeals.

The inspector also concurred that the fields formed part of the setting for the area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) celebrated in Laurie Lee’s memoir Cider with Rosie, and was therefore valued landscape that the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) should protect.

As in many areas the lack of a local plan had left the land exposed under the NPPF’s presumption in favour of sustainable development. Yet the inspector’s decision establishes that land can be a valued landscape even without official designation, and that the lack of a local plan for meeting housing targets did not necessarily undermine the protection that our countryside merits.

Another planning decision near Stroud, meanwhile, has had a more disappointing outcome. A different inspector approved an appeal from Gladman in its application to build 150 houses on nearby Mankley Field between the villages of Leonard Stanley and King’s Stanley.

CPRE recognises that more houses must be built, but it is important that the right houses are built in the right places. CPRE’s new campaign #WasteOfSpace is encouraging the public to send in photos of brownfield sites for potential development – land which can be regenerated and ease the pressure on beautiful places like the Slad Valley.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, comments:

“We are delighted with the planning inspector’s decision.

“It represents an important precedent. Where there is no local plan in place, developers can be quick to take advantage of the NPPF’s presumption in favour of development. Yet this case shows that the value of the landscape is a vitally important consideration, and one that can take precedence over other considerations such as perceived housing need.

“The decision is a victory both for the energetic and passionate local campaigners and for the countryside.”

Simon Arundel, chair of CPRE Gloucestershire, Stroud District, comments:

“In Laurie Lee’s centenary year this decision gives us further cause to celebrate. It is just reward for the very considerable commitment and professional campaign of the local community and CPRE against an unwise and unwanted development proposal.

“At the same time we must also reflect on the continuing threat to the Stroud Valleys in a different decision granting permission for housing on a greenfield site between Leonard Stanley and King’s Stanley. There will be no rest for CPRE while such threats continue to arise.”

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