Next week is crunch time for campaigners fighting for the people of Stonehouse to have their say on the future of a key canal-side location in the town.
The site of the former Ship Inn is currently held as an asset in Stroud District Council’s Housing Revenue Account and while it remains there, it can only be developed for new-build housing.
The popular Ship Inn was demolished in 1997 as part of the road widening scheme after the construction of the Ebley Bypass opened in 1995
Stonehouse residents and the ShIPS (Ship Inn Project Stonehouse) campaign group are calling on Stonehouse Town Council to carry out a wide-ranging, open and transparent public consultation on the future of the site and for Stonehouse district councillors to act on the findings.
For many years, the site has been the town’s preferred location for the town wharf, with other suggestions for community development including a small refreshment kiosk, bike & paddleboard hire, picnic benches, walking maps, wildlife haven and tourist information.
And with the successful win of £8.9 million National Heritage Lottery Funding and a green light for Phase 1B of the canal project that will see the Stroudwater Navigation reconnected with the national waterways network at Saul Junction, hopes were high that this key location would at last be able to fulfil its long-held potential.
But, in January 2016, without consultation with either the town or the town council, the site was moved into the HRA and there is currently a £1,775,000 spend allocated to the land in Stroud District Council’s Capital Programme for new-build housing in 2022/23 3 with a projected build start date of March 2023. This comes even though the site was deemed unsuitable for housing by a government planning inspector in 2002.
“People want the chance to have their say on the future of this site,” said Stonehouse resident Debbie Curtis. “We have asked people to write calling for public consultation and the response has been great. People really care about what happens to this land and we need the town council to listen to the community they serve and give people the chance to express their views and share their positive vision for this key strategic site in Stonehouse.”
The request for public consultation on the future of the former Ship Inn site will be discussed by Stonehouse town councillors at their meeting on Monday, June 14.
A Stroud District Council spokesperson said they would consult with the community and no final plans have been agreed.
A spokesperson said: “Stroud District Council is in the process of developing a strategy for the entire canal corridor which will involve key partners and communities across the district.
“We will explore a wide range of strategic possibilities along the canal, including the former Ship Inn site.
“This includes much-needed housing as well as consideration of other potential community uses and benefits at this ‘gateway’ location, maximising the opportunities arising from the recent successful National Heritage Lottery Fund bid.
“No final plans have been agreed and we will consult and engage with Stonehouse Town Council and the wider community during 2021.”