Herefordshire’s market towns are being held back by lack of land for workplaces, skills and employment shortages, and poorly developed tourism.

This is according to a new series of proposals on Leominster, Ross-on-Wye, Ledbury, Bromyard and Kington, which Herefordshire Council’s Cabinet will decide whether to approve this week.

The Market Town Investment Plans (MTIPs), drawn up by an external firm, Rose Regeneration, will then guide how the council spends money to support economic recovery and development in each.

Among the criticisms the plans make of the five towns are that

  • Leominster suffers from “few employment opportunities, low incomes, low skills and few younger people of working age”. It also has “a high proportion of low-value properties”, while “its public realm and amenities are in poor condition”.
  • Ross-on-Wye “lacks employment land” and “has fewer jobs per head than the Herefordshire average”. It also has “dilapidated leisure infrastructure” and “tired public realm”.
  • New housing in Ledbury “has not yet been accompanied by additional employment land and other infrastructure necessary to promote a sustainable community”. It also has “limited options for skills development”.
  • Bromyard also has “a shortage of employment opportunities, lower than average skills and limited local training infrastructure”.
  • Kington lost nearly a quarter of its jobs between 2015 and 2018.

All five meanwhile suffer from “weak visitor economies”, despite their tourism potential, the plans say.

But these shortcomings can be overcome.


Leominster, for example, “in a strategic location with good rail connectivity”, while its “wealth of heritage buildings has been recognised by Historic England in awarding the town Heritage Action Zone status with substantial funding”.

Ross Development Trust is well placed to develop a number of forthcoming projects to support the town’s visitor economy, its plan says.

And Ledbury has “potential for high tech business units to provide incubator space”, particularly by the viaduct, where three hectares have been earmarked for business units.

Bromyard’s Eastern Enhancement proposals, including a permanent festival site, can help it achieve “a national profile in terms of its festivals and events”.

And the proposal to include Kington in a new cross-border Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) “will significantly enhance its profile as a walking town”.

Identifying priorities for each town, and the business cases for them, will make it easier to bid for central government funding, particularly where such bids have to be made by communities themselves, Herefordshire Council says.

It has already set aside funding ‘employment land and incubator space in market towns’ (ELIS) programme to bring forward land to support business growth.

The town plans identify two candidate projects for this funding: land in Ledbury currently owned by Heineken, and a potential mixed development on the council’s Model Farm site in Ross-on-Wye.