THE fight to protect a much-loved green space in the heart of Stonehouse is back on after a planning appeal was lodged.
Wycliffe College and The Guinness Partnership want to build 52 homes on a section of the school’s Berryfield sports field off Bristol Road.
Stroud District Council’s development control committee voted to reject the plans in October last year.
However, an appeal was lodged against the decision and a hearing was held at Ebley Mill on Wednesday, September 14.
Neighbors from Bristol Road formed Save the Berryfield in 1995 to protect the land from development and held a protest outside the council offices.
An organiser Wendy Thomson said: “The decision now lies with one person so we hope that the inspectorate remembers their role which is to support communities to shape where they live.
“We want to keep the Berryfield as an open green space.
“If the inspector overturns the councils’ decision of 8-1 against Wycliffe’s application for 52 dwellings then it will only lead to further applications as the precedence will have been set for building houses on the site.
“They have submitted plans in the past to develop the whole site.
“So many locals have objected to this application, we can only trust that the system works and that we do have a voice in shaping where we live.”
The proposals include a new sports pavilion with car parking but at the time over 100 residents objected to the scheme along with Stonehouse Town Council.
They raised several concerns about the impact the development would have on traffic, parking, noise and loss of light.
The development includes a range of homes made up of one bed and two bed flats and two to four bed houses.
All of the homes would have been affordable housing split 50 – 50 between social rental and shared ownership properties.
Craig McDonald, speaking on behalf of the developers, previously said the country was in desperate need of new homes to relieve the imbalance between income levels and house price inflation.
Stroud District Councillor for Stonehouse (Conservative) and Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member Nick Housden said the greenfield site was ‘totally unsuitable’.
He said: “On behalf of residents I attended the Berryfields application appeal lodged by Wycliffe College heard by the planning inspectorate at Stroud District Council.
“The Berryfields are designated as protected outdoor playing space and the green field is at the heart of our town viewed by hundreds of people everyday.
“To see housing built on this going against both our neighborhood plan and local plan would be a disaster for those living nearby.
“I spoke against this application again today after speaking against it at the original call in and I hope that the inspector will agree with me and hundreds of residents that objected that housing on that site is totally unsuitable.”
The decision of the inspector is expected to be announced in four to six weeks.