Down Ampney residents are furious that the Co-op has applied to build houses on the village’s 'green lung' in what has been termed an act of 'environmental vandalism'.

The area of land known locally as Duke’s Field, named Millennium Field by the Co-op, is right in the heart of the village, opposite the primary school. It is the only remaining piece of land within the village that is considered a green space, as other land has already been earmarked for development.

Residents feel that this small area of green space is part of the village’s character.

One said: “I feel this is environmental vandalism that will destroy the lungs of our village, purely for corporate greed. We must fight this for all our worth.”

Despite some regular communication with the Co-op, this application was not discussed with Down Ampney Parish Council before it was made to Cotswold District Council.

Parish Council chair Ray Jenkins said: "The application is contemptuous of any good will generated by meaningful communication by the Co-op representative, where, even at a recent meeting, this land was highlighted as an essential green lung in the village. This can only be seen as 'opportunism' on the part of the Co-op during the lengthy consideration by CDC of our Neighbourhood Plan.”

Many other villagers are appalled by the application, fearing that the distinct character of the village may be destroyed.

Resident Melanie Fouracre said: “I think the development is a prime example of how to destroy the character of a community with one single thoughtless piece of development. That field is right in the centre of the village and is enjoyed as a beautiful green space that identifies it. There is no benefit to the community to ‘tidy up’ this field by building on it.

Geoff Tappern, a Parish Councillor, said: “The Co-op is well aware of the village's passion about this last remaining field in the centre of the village, often with its sheep, and our wishes to keep this as green space. Yet they just ignore us and, without any consultation, plan to build”.

The Parish Council is urging residents to contact the CDC planning department to comment on the proposal and make their objections known.

A spokesperson for Co-op, confirmed:

“An outline planning application has been submitted for up to eight new homes on private land within the Local Plan’s settlement boundary for Down Ampney.

"The proposal is subject to formal planning approval which provides the most democratic of means for anyone with an interest to express their views.

"A commitment has already been given that all the healthy trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order will be retained.

"The land in question does not have any ‘green’ or ‘no development’ allocation in the adopted Cotswold Local Plan, and is inside the settlement boundary – it is private land, without public access."