A MAJOR plan setting out future development in Leominster cannot progress further in its current form according to Herefordshire Council.

The Leominster Area Neighbourhood Plan (LANP) was submitted to Herefordshire Council for consideration last year, having already been approved by the town council and scrutinised by residents.

But in a report, Herefordshire Council has stated that the plan does not conform with the Core Strategy – which proposes a minimum 2,300 new homes for Leominster – and cannot progress to inspection by an independent examiner.

Among other criticisms, the local authority labelled the LANP’s first policy, which insists a relief road linking linking the A44 at Barons’ Cross and the A49 south east of the town must be built ahead of any development, 'unrealistic'.

At a meeting this week, members of the LANP’s former steering committee spoke of their disappointment.

"I am disappointed and have been disappointed right from the beginning with the degree of assistance we have had from Herefordshire Council," said Peter Ellis, who was chairman of the steering committee.

"We decided long ago that the expansion of Leominster was impossible without first addressing the traffic problems in the town – both the congestion and pollution which everybody points out is breaking the law."

He said he was not prepared to see the policy disappear.

The council's strategic planning team stated in its response that Core Strategy policies did not make provision for the link road to be built ahead of development, and it was not considered viable or deliverable.

However, the economic development team response supported the policy in the LANP.

Mr Ellis added: "[The council] must be reminded that the whole thing has to go to a referendum. At some point, the people of Leominster have got to be persuaded this is a good plan and if faced with a neighbourhood plan which allows developers to go ahead without any guarantee of a road, that plan is not going to pass.”

Other criticisms were considered by the committee, who added that the council appeared to have moved the goalposts, to be minor and it was hoped that these could be addressed or re-worded.

In a statement, Herefordshire Council said: "‘All neighbourhood plans are required to meet a set of basic conditions which include conformity with the Herefordshire Local Plan.

"Unfortunately the Leominster Neighbourhood Plan does not conform to the strategic policies of the Local Plan and therefore would not be successful at examination."

It said Leominster Town Council had been offered support from the neighbourhood planning team since the designation of its neighbourhood area.

"Herefordshire Council service providers have given advice on several previous drafts of the neighbourhood plans over the past two years but the advice hasn’t been reflected in the submitted plan prepared by the Town Council," it said.

"A meeting has been arranged between the town council, the plan writers and Herefordshire Council Service Providers to look at a way forward to ensure that the plan can meet both the community’s aspirations and the legal requirements of such planning documents."