VILLAGERS have voiced their opposition to a neighbourhood plan they say does not accurately reflect their views.

A number of Colwall residents have sent an open letter to the parish council in which they claim their views were not properly taken into account in the council’s neighbourhood plan, which was narrowly voted through.

The letter claims the neighbourhood plan is “the worst in Herefordshire” citing consultations in 2015 and 2018 in which residents were asked their views over housing sites in Mill Lane and on Grovesend Field.

Residents were overwhelmingly against the Grovesend Field developments, but the open letter says that when the neighbourhood plan came up again in 2020, it was still included in the document.

The letter says: “Despite the lack of support for the allocation of Grovesend Field for development, and the genuine concerns of local residents, Grovesend Field remained in the proposed plan, relying solely on the opinion of one landscape architect and demonstrating that the community was not being given an opportunity to ‘shape its future’ at all.

“When questioned on the inclusion, the response from the parish council was typically along the lines of ‘our hands are tied, this is the only thing that we can do’.

“However, it was a conscious decision to follow a subjective landscape assessment to the exclusion of all other factors, despite the Natural England guidance on using landscape assessments stating that it is only one factor to be considered alongside others.

“The 2020 consultation resulted in 78 objections to the inclusion of Grovesend Field, and only two letters of support, one of which was from the land agents for the owners of Grovesend Field.”

Eventually, the neighbourhood plan came to a referendum, which narrowly succeeded by a margin of 563-516 in favour of its adoption.

The result had by far the lowest percentage of “yes” votes when compared to other NDP referendums in Herefordshire, with the group rallying against the plans saying this shows it will be unpopular.

They added: “If a measure of success is community support for the plan, which seems reasonable, then it can be seen that Colwall’s plan will be the worst in Herefordshire by the metrics here, and it stands out far from the average in having such a high level of community opposition.

“There has been a tendency within the Parish Council to dismiss objections as the views of affected local residents and their friends and, as we have seen, ignore the feedback obtained in public consultations.

“It is not believed that 516 ‘No’ votes could be generated in that way, and continuing to dismiss objections or highlighting this plan as a success shows a lack of connection with the village and a large number of concerned residents.

“We conclude that the lack of meaningful consultation, failure to correct misinformation, and a lack of respect for the concerns of village residents, have led to the creation of an NDP that is, and will remain, actively unpopular.”

Colwall Parish Council was unavailable for comment.