A SIGNIFICANT blow has been struck in the battle to keep the scenic Cotswolds safe from the threat of "speculative" developers.

Cotswold District Council's announcement that it now has a housing land supply "well in excess" of the required five years is being celebrated by campaigners across the area battling to stop "inappropriate" development.

National planning policies to champion new development have left councils that cannot demonstrate a five-year supply vulnerable to development even on sites opposed at local level.

Planning inspectors are increasingly taking a hard-line approach with councils without an adequate supply.

But after welcoming planning minister Nick Boles to the Cotswolds to voice their concerns and show him the area's unique character, council leaders now say they will have "full control" over local development.

The council says it now has a 359 unit surplus on the required supply, even when a mandatory 20 per cent "buffer" on top of the agreed five-year figure is factored in.

District council leader Lynden Stowe said: "This is one of the most attractive places to live and work in the country so it’s understandable that there is a high demand for housing - but we must protect our wonderful rural heritage against the whims of speculative developers.

"Mr Boles has seen for himself the uniqueness of this district, 80 per cent of which lies within the Cotswold AONB, and the challenges this poses for future development.

"This should enable us to exert full control over the planning process - this is good news for local democracy and will benefit the whole district."

Stow's mayor Alun White hopes the new calculations will help fight an ongoing planning inquiry into a bid by Bovis Homes to build 146 homes east of Griffin Close.

"It may also make it easier to resist developments that haven't been put forward," he said. "We're asking the inspector whether they can take into account what the district council is now saying."

And Mickleton parish councillor Chris Moorecroft added: "In Mickleton we're cautiously optimistic but I think we recognise it needs to be tested. The proof will be in the pudding."

Commenting on his visit, Mr Boles said: “The way to gain control of local planning decision making is to get a robust five-year land supply in place and I can see that Cotswold District Council has worked hard to deliver that."