VILLAGERS fear they could be overrun with houses after being labelled a town in a crucial planning document.
Bourton-on-the-Water parish councillors have taken Cotswold District Council to task after the area was mis-classified in the current edition of its newsletter.
The publication, which goes to 40,000 homes in the district, deemed it a town in an article on future development under the authority's emerging Local Plan: Core Strategy.
On a map showing where planners think houses should be built, Bourton is identified as a main settlement that can support more sustainable development.
Along with Moreton-in-Marsh and Tetbury, it has been labelled as a market town. The district council said market towns are best placed to cater for the majority of future growth."
People living in Bourton fear the latest misrepresentation could result in more development being foisted upon the community.
Resident Joan Manchip said: "Cotswold District Council has classified us as a market own and they classify Stow as a small town. Is it their way of re-classifying us?"
Parish council chairman Bryan Sumner said there was no doubt Bourton was a village.
"We're about equal to Moreton in terms of population but we do not have a charter or a mayor and I'm just a chairman of the council," he added.
"I don't think there are any plans that I've been told about that it's about to change." Sounding the alarm, councillor Brian Harden said it was a process of erosion in the face of more building.
"It's a whittling away to say we can dump what we like on Bourton," he said.
But former Bourton district councillor and resident Dudley Mills said: "Bourton's been a market town in the CDC book since before I became a councillor. It's all connected with potential development."
District council press officer Bob McNally said the mistake would not be repeated.
He added: "The map in the council newsletter classifying settlements across the district was taken from an earlier draft planning document.
"We can assure residents that future documentation relating to the Core Strategy will be more accurate."
The draft Local Plan: Core Strategy will be on view later this year at www.cotswold.gov.uk for comment.
Following consultation, a proposed submission Core Strategy will be prepared with a six-week consultation during the first half of 2013.