RESIDENTS in Cirencester are being given the opportunity to meet with architects to discuss controversial proposals that could bring more than 2,000 homes to the town over the next 17 years.

As part of Cotswold District Council’s Local Plan, which sets out the district’s housing requirements, up to 2,500 houses could be built on land to the south of Chesterton by 2031.

Next month a unique event will be held over a weekend where architects behind the project will meet with members of the community before drawing up their plans for the area.

Charles Campion, of John Thompson and Partners architecture firm, said that the land at Chesterton is being viewed as a clean slate.

“Every view is welcome and every view will be taken on board. We want as many people as possible to join in with the process,” he said.

“This is about people getting their voices heard at the earliest opportunity and we really want to encourage as much participation as possible.”

As part of the community planning weekend, residents will be able to accompany architects on a tour of the Chesterton site and ask any burning questions they may have.

Mr Campion insisted that the event is open to everyone in Cirencester, even those who have reacted negatively to the proposals.

“We are not trying to change people’s minds. We hope that people will come along and see the possibility of the site. At this stage, it’s about working with the local community,” he said.

Following the public workshop weekend, the John Thompson and Partners team will analyse the feedback and draw up a master plan for the new Chesterton neighbourhood.

This plan, which will include an artist’s impression of the site, will then be presented to the public on Wednesday, May 14.

News of the event has been well received by Chesterton ward member Cllr Margaret Rickman, who said it was vitally important people attend.

“I would urge all people to go to these meetings to find out the facts and to hear all the details of the project,” she said.

When the proposed Chesterton development was first announced in May 2013, it was met with largely negative views by the local community.

Writing at the time and on behalf of the Chesterton Community Project, Cllr Roly Hughes said: “The development of 2,500 homes on open farmland will, in our opinion, have a significant impact on the character of the town.”

He also drew attention to the fact that if the development goes ahead, the number of homes in Chesterton will increase from 1,600 to 4,100.

“Now surely this is far too many homes for such a small place,” he said.

The community planning weekend events will take place on Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10 at the Ashcroft Centre in Ashcroft Road.

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