CIVIC leaders in Ledbury say they will try to recover some of the £105,000 they have spent on legal fees if they win a 625 homes planning appeal.

Herefordshire Council rejected plans to build on land north of the viaduct in December last year.

More than 1,000 people in Ledbury, along with the town council and nearby Wellington Heath parish council, said the site needed a second access onto the Hereford Road.

But Bloor Homes said it had done a lot of technical work into the proposed access onto the Bromyard Road.

The firm claimed building a new road under the arches of the 19th-century grade II listed railway viaduct would pose a health and safety risk.


The planning committee agreed with local sentiment and went against its own planning officers’ advice and rejected the scheme.

But Bloor Homes appealed the decision and the county council subsequently decided not to defend their refusal.

However, the town council decided to step into the breach and fight the appeal.

Now, all parties involved are awaiting a decision from the planning inspector.

A Ledbury town council spokesperson said: “It was not the council’s original intention to participate in the inquiry.

“But when officers of Herefordshire Council took the decision not to defend the planning authority’s own decision to refuse this application, the town council tabled a public debate on the matter and took the decision to support the community we represent and to defend the democratically arrived at decision of the county’s planning committee.

“Bloor have been forced to make significant alterations to their own highway design proposals during the inquiry in response to the town council’s evidence.

“This makes it clear that the planning committee was right to refuse the application, and that the town council’s participation in the inquiry has evidenced the damaging impact that traffic from the development will have on the local area if it is allowed to proceed.

“Since February, the evolving cost implications of participating as a Rule 6 party have been discussed publicly at town council meetings and provision has been made from general reserves to cover the forecast costs.

“The allocated budget for the planning action currently sits at £105,000 and will be further reviewed this week when a detailed quarterly examination will be undertaken of the council’s in-year spend against budget provision.

“The town council hopes our MP, Bill Wiggin, will continue to strongly support the concerns we have raised on the community’s behalf and that local residents will all lobby both Mr Wiggin and the secretary of state in writing to reject the appeal and turn down the planning application in its present unsatisfactory form.

“If the appeal is rejected – as we hope and expect it will be – the town council will feel justified in seeking legal advice regarding the recovery of its inquiry costs from Herefordshire Council.

“The next stage of the inquiry is that the inspector will write her recommendation report, which will be sent to the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, who will make the final decision.

“It is crucial that local people lobby for a refusal of the current application while stressing the community supports and positively welcomes sustainable and satisfactory development.

“A mixed development of this site with an access which connects at its nearest point to the current built form of the town and, as importantly connects with the existing strategic road network will be a welcome extension to the town.”