Herefordshire refuses plans for 625-home scheme despite land supply deficit

Herefordshire councillors have refused plans for 625 homes on a greenfield site, despite officers recommending that it be approved and the council not being able to demonstrate a five year housing land supply.

The Ledbury Viaduct (pic: muffinn, Flickr)
The Ledbury Viaduct (pic: muffinn, Flickr)

Earlier this week, Herefordshire County Council refused developer Bloor Homes’ outline plans for the scheme on a 28-hectare greenfield site on the northern edge of Ledbury.

Alongside the homes, the development would include up to 2.9 hectares of B1 employment land, a canal corridor, public open space, access, drainage and ground modelling works and other associated works.

The site is bounded to the south by the Grade II-listed Ledbury Viaduct and to the east by an industrial estate. The applicant’s proposed access point to the development would sit on the northern side of the site, linking the scheme with the B4214.

According to a planning report, the application was deferred in November "to give the applicant time to amend the application to include a second access point through the viaduct". This would run under the viaduct and link with the A438.

According to the report, a response from Bloor Homes said that while the firm "acknowledge the expressed preference for a vehicular access off the Hereford Road, it is a ‘preference’ and with respect that is not the scheme before the committee for determination".

The housebuilder added that the "proposed site access arrangements; indeed the proposed sustainable transport links as a whole, are well considered, robust and have been scrutinised thoroughly and consistently by the highway authority and the council’s retained highway consultants in order to ensure they can be recommended for approval as part of the scheme".

Officers stood by their November recommendation for approval which said the scheme was in conformity with the "housing, employment and sustainable development policies of the development plan which includes the Ledbury Neighbourhood Plan".

Planners also advised that the council does not have an up to date five year supply of housing land "and as such planning permission should be granted without delay", in accordance with national planning policy.

"On the basis of the clear direction from [the NPPF’s presumption in favour of sustainable development], the local plan policy and NPPF aims and objectives … and there being no technical reasons or demonstrable harm to dictate otherwise, approval is recommended as the proposal represents sustainable development," the report said.

However, councillors voted to refuse the plans. Planning has asked the council for its reasons for refusal but it had yet to respond at time of publication.

According to local press reports, the reasons for refusal related to the access issue.

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