A SPORTS hub will only be built off Dymock Road if a developer is given planning permission for 420 new homes, it has been revealed.

Last week we reported that Ledbury Sports Federation wants to see a new home for Ledbury Town FC and other clubs and sports built on fields off Dymock Road.

Federation chairman John Wilesmith has now confirmed that this hub would be part of a development by Gladman if its planning application is approved.

Mr Wilesmith said this week: "Part of Gladman’s planning application includes reference to a five hectare area which was intended for sporting activity, so it is not exactly a secret."

The situation has led to town and county councillor, Liz Harvey, pointing the finger at a flawed neighbourhood plan for Ledbury, which has driven sports clubs into the arms of "predatory" developers.

She told the Reporter that the Neighbourhood Development Plan in Ledbury "contained no strategic land allocations and no settlement boundary for the town" and "the consequence now is that junior and senior football clubs in the town are being driven into the arms of predatory developers".

Cllr Harvey said Ledbury was being asked "to swallow a further 400-plus unplanned housing development so that football in Ledbury can find a new home at the developer’s and the community’s expense".

The neighbourhood plan, as it stands, contains no specific provision for extra sports fields in Ledbury, even though Ledbury Town FC has to find a new ground.

A Herefordshire Council spokesman said developer Property Solutions "potentially has consent to build on Ledbury Town Football Club, once an alternative site for football has been identified".

But no alternative site had been identified, and both Ledbury Swifts and Ledbury Town FC are now looking to move to the site off the Dymock Road.

However, Gladman's planning application for 420 homes off the Dymock Road has effectively been in limbo since January 31, when a decision date came and went.

The Reporter understands the county planning office had asked Gladman for extra information concerning its application for outline permission but none was provided.

This week, the county councillor for the Ledbury South ward, Emma Holton, said she believed the neighbourhood plan might now be able to stop development off the Dymock Road because it had reached a legal level called 'regulation 16' which means "the neighbourhood plan for Ledbury would have material legal weight in a planning application – for example if Gladman should pursue an appeal".

The neighbourhood plan does not include a housing estate off the Dymock Road.

Cllr Holton said Gladman's application could come to the county's planning committee in April, and she added: "Gladman may try hardball tactics, but thankfully Ledbury does have regulation 16 in place, which is great."

Meanwhile, former Malvern Hills district councillor Sylvia Pick has written to the the county's planning officer expressing concern about any potential increase in traffic along the Dymock Road.

She said: "By its configuration and character, it is an old country road, unsuited to and dangerous for anything more than its present volume of traffic."

But the need for extra sports provision is not being denied by Ledbury residents.

Posting on the Voice of Ledbury Facebook site, Ann Marsh said: "The kids of Ledbury want a sports field – what is there for the kids to do? Come on, give the kids a place to go, to play sport and be happy."

Gladman was contacted for a comment but did not reply before we went to press.