THE public gallery erupted in applause at Shirehall today (December 11) as county planners rejected a scheme to build up to 625 homes in Ledbury.

Herefordshire Council’s planning committee asked for proposals for land north of the viaduct to be reviewed by Bloor Homes last month.

More than 1,000 people in Ledbury, along with the town council and nearby Wellington Heath Parish Council, felt a second access onto the Hereford Road was needed.

However, Bloor Homes representatives said their plans would remain unchanged.

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They said a lot of technical work had gone into the proposed access onto the Bromyard Road and claimed that building a new road under the arches of the 19th-century grade II listed railway viaduct would pose a health and safety risk.

Bloor Homes also said their current plans would see improvements to the Bromyard Road, Hereford Road, and The Homend junction with a pedestrian-controlled crossing and upgraded layout for lorries to manoeuvre.

But Ledbury town councillor John Bannister said the plans "flew in the face of the message from local residents".

He said there had been "no effort whatsoever to consider the requested changes".

Coun Bannister also said a transport report commissioned by the town council found there were errors and flaws in the proposals.

Coun David Williams, of Wellington Heath Parish Council, said the unchanged plans had been met with "astonishment and outrage" in the village.

“The traffic lights will not reduce congestion,” he said.

However, Nick Rawlings, speaking on behalf of Bloor Homes, said an email received from Network Rail on the day suggested building a road under the viaduct was out of the question.

Coun Helen I’Anson asked whether the plans would be satisfactory if they resulted in someone being killed on the road.

And Coun Phillip Howells said the wishes of town residents were being ignored.

“The only beneficiaries of a single access road would be the developers,” he said.

Ward councillor Liz Harvey said a road under the viaduct was an "absolute prerequisite for this site being acceptable to the community".

She said the letter received from Network Rail 10 minutes before the meeting did not say that a road could not be built but that the current agreement did not provide for it.

Coun David Summers proposed rejecting the scheme going against the officers’ advice. He was seconded by Coun Tony Johnson.

Ten councillors backed refusal, three voted against and one abstained.