Profile of Stroud District

Area Context

The District of Stroud is located in the county of Gloucestershire and covers an area of approximately 45,325 hectares (about 175square miles). Stroud lies about 20 miles north of Bristol and immediately south of Gloucester and Cheltenham. Gloucestershire sits at the periphery of England’s south west and has close links with the Midlands, as well as South Wales. Stroud District shares boundaries with Cotswold District, Gloucester City, Tewkesbury Borough and the unitary authority of South Gloucestershire. Our neighbour to the west is the Forest of Dean, which sits on the opposite bank of the River Severn estuary.

Much of the eastern half of the District falls into the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which covers just over 50% of the District's total land area. The western half of the District, characterised by the low lying landscape of the Severn Vale, is bounded by the Severn Estuary and includes extensive areas of land liable to flooding which extend eastwards along the river corridors within the Stroud Valleys. The District contains internationally important wildlife sites at the Severn Estuary, at Rodborough Common south of Stroud and at beech woodland straddling the north eastern boundary of the District with Tewkesbury District.

The main town, Stroud, acts as the focal point of the wider functional urban area within the Stroud Valleys. The Valleys are home to some 49,000 people (just over 40% of the District's population), including just under 6,000 in the town of Nailsworth. Stroud town is the District's largest commercial centre.

With the Gloucester-London main railway line running through it, Stroud has easy rail access to the north and east, including to Birmingham and London; junction 13 of the M5 lies five miles to the west of the town centre.

Towards the south of the District lie the towns of Cam and Dursley (population approximately 15,000), which jointly act as a focus for the South Vale area. Cam and Dursley has a rail station on the Bristol-Birmingham main railway line. Stonehouse (just under 8,000 people) lies just outside the topographical Stroud Valleys (3.5 miles west of Stroud), but the town functions as part of this urban area. Close to the M5 junction 13, Stonehouse also benefits from a rail station on the Gloucester- London line.

To the north of the District, Hardwicke (just under 4,000 people) forms part of the Gloucester urban area. The remaining countryside areas of the District are mainly used for agriculture and contain a large number of smaller towns, villages and hamlets.

There are a number of large employers in the District, with national and world recognition. Key industries are manufacturing and engineering; distribution; public sector; finance, IT and business; tourism. Micro and small businesses continue to thrive.

There is a growing demand for locally-produced food and locally-made products. Stroud has a strong independent retailing sector, farmers markets are very successful and many towns have ‘Fair Trade' status.

Stroud has attracted artists, writers and craftspeople for over a century and we have an exceptionally rich creative arts scene which is internationally appreciated.

The District's built heritage is a huge part of its character, identity and interest. We have nearly 5,000 individual listed buildings or structures (many of which are homes and business premises), 41 conservation areas, 14 historic parks or gardens and many sites of archaeological interest.

SDC is committed to progressing the restoration of the historic Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal, known as the Cotswold Canals. Significant progress has already been made restoring the stretch between Stonehouse and Stroud town centre. Further works are proposed and Stroud town and Brimscombe Port are identified as crucial ‘staging posts' along the route. The challenge is to make the most of the canal restoration and its regeneration potential whilst maintaining and enhancing key employment land and conserving the rural character of much of the route. There are opportunities to utilise the canal corridor to achieve wider objectives, including improving transport infrastructure, extending public access and making public realm improvements.