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Canalside filling station idea angers Stonehouse residents

By Ben_Falconer Stroudlife.co.uk

Stonehouse residents are calling for a halt to a process which could see a key piece of land sold off for a filling station.

When Gloucestershire County Council transferred the former Ship Inn site next to the Stroudwater Canal to Stroud District Council, many in the town believed it should be used for the benefit of the town and the canal when it is restored.

However they are unhappy with the district council after it resolved to confirm the preferred use as a petrol station, shop and café to the highest bidder.

It has beaten another filling station bid of £513,000 and a third bid of £422,000 for a residential institution to support people with learning difficulties, with an offer of £550,000.

Stonehouse Town and Stroud District Council member David Drew, who is Labour’s candidate for the next General Election said it is a "stupid" proposal and that whole area needs to be looked at again.

The land was transferred from the county to district council with a notional pricetag of £500,000, as the county council’s contribution to the restoration of the canal.

The Ship Inn stood beside the main road, diagonally opposite the bottom of Regent Street, until its demolition for a road widening in the late 1990s.

People who live near the waste ground between the former Stroudwater Navigation canal and the A419 were asked what they wanted to see at the site by Stonehouse Community Partnership last year.

Stonehouse Town Council told the district council’s strategy and resources committee, which resolved to sell to the highest bidder on October 2, it was ‘disappointed that the cash objective of the canals project has been put before the provision of a community facility to enhance Stonehouse’.

“The town council totally rejects the idea of a petrol station as this would spoil the canal scene and immediate environment,” it told the district council.

John Jeynes of Stonehouse Community Partnership said: “I appreciate that this site was handed to SDC by GCC as a contribution to the restoration of the canal.

“The only realistic location for a Town Wharf, community and visitor centre to enjoy and exploit the benefits of the canal is the former Ship Inn Site.

“Millions of pounds of public money have been given to developing the canal through English Heritage Lottery to restore the canal in keeping with the local environment and heritage.

“The emerging Stroud District Plan has proposals to improve the link from Stonehouse Town Centre to the canal via Regent Street. It would be surreal to believe that SDC intended to do this so people can visit a Petrol Station.

“Stonehouse Neighbourhood Local Plan has gone through its third public consultation stage. The former Ship Inn site has been identified as a cherished community asset, which the community wishes to see, developed for a community use.”

Mr Drew said: “It is a stupid proposal and we need to go back to the drawing board and look at what we can do, given that even if the improvements on the A419 are a given, that site will be even more limited.”

District council leader Geoff Wheeler said: “The strategy and resources committee had the option to sell the land to a residential home or for use as a petrol station. Both had the potential to benefit the community but in very different ways.

“The councillors voted by seven votes to five in favour of the petrol station option. Council officers will now negotiate the sale of the land with the preferred bidder who will also need to submit an appropriate planning application in due course.”

Read more in Stroudlife.co.uk here

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