Residents of Newent are voicing their strong opposition to a proposed housing development that they fear will transform their town into a mere extension of Gloucester. Over 2,000 individuals have already signed a petition protesting against the plans put forward by Robert Hitchins Ltd. The proposal outlines the construction of up to 375 homes, a primary school with an attached nursery, and nearly 84,000 sq ft of employment land on a 60-acre site south of Gloucester Street.
The development consultants argue that the project offers a sustainable and high-quality housing solution, ranging from one to five-bedroom homes. They believe that the land southeast of Newent is ideal for such a development.
However, the community’s sentiment is starkly different. On Saturday, September 9th, a significant number of residents, accompanied by tractors, a bugler, and a drummer, took to the streets to express their disapproval. They believe that such a large-scale development would erode the town’s close-knit community spirit.
Christine Howley, chairman of the community action group Future Newent and a former mayor, expressed her concerns about the town becoming a mere dormitory of Gloucester. She also shared worries about the proposed ‘local centre’ of retail units, fearing it might negatively impact the town centre’s businesses. “Many people in the town are crying out for a supermarket here, but that’s not part of the proposal,” she added.
Judith Steers, a local resident, highlighted the potential environmental impact, pointing out the loss of productive farmland, mature hedgerows, and veteran trees. She urged the Forest of Dean District Council, the planning authority, to reject the proposal, citing its unsustainability and potential harm to the community.
Another resident, Clare Stone, expressed her disappointment with the district council. She noted that Newent has experienced significant housing growth in recent years without the necessary infrastructure and services to support it. She contrasted Newent’s situation with other towns in the Forest, which have seen substantial investments.
In a unanimous decision, the Newent Town Council has opposed the application and is currently seeking expert advice to strengthen their grounds for rejection.