PEOPLE living near Ross-on-Wye are fearing for the future after a sixth planning application to build housing in their village was submitted.

Lea is just one of many places in Herefordshire under the eye of developers.

And those living in Lea are worried that the plans - which total 157 proposed homes - could change the character of their community forever.

There are currently 218 properties in Lea, meaning that if all the proposals were given the green light, the number of homes in the village would increase by 72 per cent.

Steve Banner, chairman of Lea Action Group, said: "I cannot express my horror about this prospect. Lea has a problem with its surface water and drainage system and the centre of the village is prone to flooding.

"Lea straddles the A40 and has its own pub, school and petrol station, so I understand why it is being targeted, but this is getting to the craziness stage."

MLN (Land and Properties) Ltd is the latest developer with Lea in its sights.

It has put forward outline plans for 38 homes adjacent to the B4222.

Other applications include a scheme for 44 houses on land adjacent to Lea Hall pitched by North Oak Homes, while Bell Homes Ltd want to build 28 properties at Castle End.

BH Savidge & Son has submitted plans for 39 homes on land adjacent to the village's petrol station, Mr and Mrs G. Palmer want to build four homes in the village and Townsend House & Haines Ltd has submitted outline plans for four homes at Hunters Hall.

But it's not just people living in Lea that are worried about the prospect of more homes.

Other applications include a 120-home scheme in Bromyard, 80 homes for Clehonger and 57 properties in Leintwardine.

Alison Kay, chairman of Leintwardine Parish Council, believes that a planning loophole means developers have the luxury to target wherever they want.

"The application in Leintwardine appears to be one of several speculative developments being proposed across Herefordshire," she said.

So far this year, Herefordshire Council's planning committee members have discussed 30 applications for 742 homes.

And yesterday (Wednesday) a further three applications for 211 houses were to be debated.

That compares to 34 proposals for 1,099 properties during the whole of last year.

Only six of the 30 applications have been refused.

Richard Williams, spokesman for the Herefordshire Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said the rise in applications is due to Herefordshire Council not meeting its statutory obligations in identifying a five-year land supply.

Therefore, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which became law in 2012, trumps any local neighbourhood development plans unless there are adverse impacts which would significantly and demonstrably outweigh any benefits.

"Developers are therefore using a window of opportunity to looking for developments at often inappropriate sites before locals can have their say," said Mr Williams.