With its limestone hilltops and verdant valleys running down from the Cotswolds to the Severn Vale, Stroud district seems custom-made for the textile industry: its perfect combination of pasture, building materials and fresh, natural water enabling it to become a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution, when its woollen industry supported more than 100 mills and its canal connected it to the rivers Severn and Thames. Today, cloth made in the district can still be found around the world, on snooker tables, tennis balls and in industrial felts, but we also have a thriving artistic community, a nationally-important organic food movement and a world-class light engineering and small-scale manufacturing industry. The district is home to the country’s greenest football club, National League Two side Forest Green Rovers FC, and one of the biggest indoor skateparks in Europe, RUSH, which attracts visitors from across the world to partake in what is soon to become an Olympic sport. Consider this along with our more historic tourist attractions such as Berkeley Castle and The Cotswold Way, which attracts growing numbers of walkers and cyclists, and it adds up to a great visitor experience.
The Stroud district is made up of an eclectic mix of towns and villages, each with its own distinct character and feel. Market towns such as Stonehouse, Nailsworth, Painswick, Berkeley, Dursley and Wotton-under-Edge are home to vibrant local communities and host a number of local events and festivals through the year.
Our district offers excellent educational provision including South Gloucestershire and Stroud College and the newly opened Berkeley Green UTC, which specialises in digital technologies, engineering and cyber security.
Situated at the foot of the western escarpment of the Cotswold Hills, the town of Stroud occupies an enviable position 10 miles south of Gloucester and 26 miles northeast of Bristol. London is just an hour and a half away by train, and we also have good connections to the West Coast mainline. The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty circles the town, and the Cotswold Way path passes by it to the west. The Welsh border at Monmouthshire, just 19 miles away, is also within easy reach and a large part of the district borders the River Severn.
Our independent spirit, famous farmers’ market and bustling café culture has led Jasper Conran to dub us ‘the Covent Garden of the Cotswolds.’ A recognised centre for contemporary arts, we are home to a staggering number of musicians, authors and creative artists, including Damien Hirst’s ‘Science’ facility. Stroud also hosts a well-regarded programme of events and festivals, including a fringe festival which showcases free music, theatre and performing arts events, the textile-based Select Festival and the month-long SITE Art Festival, where open-studio tours allow visitors to visit artists’ homes and studios and meet the makers.
Ensuring that all members of our community have access to the services and opportunities they need is a priority. Stroud district includes some of most deprived parts of the Gloucestershire. Access to transport, decent jobs and affordable housing are challenges - especially for younger people and families, as well as social isolation and access to services for elderly residents. Central government may soon demand that the Council provides up to 40% more housing than is included in our current local plan, which presents considerable infrastructure challenges. Strong external partnerships are a key part of meeting these challenges. We will deliver the right outcomes for our residents through excellent relations built with neighbouring authorities and key stakeholders such as LEP, business, and voluntary and community sector.