The fate of a scheme to build 375 homes which it is claimed could turn Newent into a “dormitory of Gloucester” will be decided by a planning inspector.

Robert Hitchins Ltd wants to develop almost 60 acres of agricultural land south of Gloucester Street in Newent.

No decision has yet to be made on the outline planning application for up to 375 homes, a first form entry primary school including nursery, up to 83,958.5 sq ft of employment land and a centre which could have shops, cafes and a hot food takeaway.

People in Newent feel betrayed by the Forest of Dean District Council over the plans and thousands are opposed to the scheme.

There are fears the town’s already struggling sewage infrastructure will not be able to cope.

And sniff tests at the site last year picked up rotten odours and smells “like death”.

While other residents fear the new estate, which could house up to 1,000 people, will make Newent “a dormitory town for Gloucester with no identity”.

The District Council issued a notice earlier this month saying that the scheme does not comply with the adopted local plan.

However, the developer has now lodged an appeal for non-determination with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities as no decision has been made on the scheme which has been with planners since April last year.

Councillor Julia Gooch (Progressive Independent, Newent and Taynton) said she was not surprised to see the notice of a planning appeal issued straight after the district council approved the draft of its new local plan.

The local plan is a blueprint for development for the district. And this site is earmarked for development in the new local plan which is going out for public consultation.

“It was shameful that some of the local plan support meetings were held during the working day which prohibited me from participating,” she said.

“I feel the residents of Newent are rightly concerned that the town is growing too rapidly and that development to the south east is unbalancing the town centre.

“I am acutely aware of the need for rented affordable housing in Newent, as every person needs and deserves a place to call home, but this development is too much, too soon and will do nothing to build community cohesion.”

Consultants working on the scheme said the new estate would provide a range of one to five bedroom homes.

And they believe proposals demonstrate that a high quality, responsive and sustainable development is achievable and deliverable for land south east of Newent.

But Newent residents disagree and dozens took to the streets to protest against the proposals in September last year.

More than 2,000 people have also signed a petition against Robert Hitchins Ltd’s scheme.

Community action group Future Newent chairman and former mayor Christine Howley said at the time that she doesn’t want Newent to be turned into a dormitory of Gloucester.

She also fears plans for a new ‘local centre’ of small retail units will hurt trade in the town centre.

“Times are still hard for small businesses and we can’t expect our town centre to thrive if we open up another retail centre less than a mile away.

“Many people in the town are crying out for a supermarket here, but that’s not part of the proposal.

“Our planning authority, the Forest of Dean District Council is supposed to promote sustainable development which benefits the local community.

“This development is unsustainable and could have a major negative effect on our community. So we are asking the planning authority to refuse permission.”