A plan to build a 33-home estate near Hereford has been refused permission for several reasons.

As the Hereford Times reported back in October, Piper Homes’ scheme for the 1.4-hectare site by Whitestone Business Park, Withington, would have mostly consisted of three-bedroom houses for market sale, plus 11 for “social, affordable or intermediate rent”.

But Herefordshire Council said the scheme would require a full habitat regulations assessment as it lies in the catchment of the river Lugg special area of conservation (SAC), currently in poor ecological condition.

The proposal now adds to the growing number of housing and other development plans in the north of the county which have been paused or outright refused due to the “moratorium” arising from the need to protect the SAC.


But council planners also took issue with several other aspects of the plan.

The location south of the A4103 was only included in the Withington neighbourhood development plan for “age-restricted residential development”, and an earlier application for such a development has since expired.

The site “has poor connectivity and is conflict with the operation of the neighbouring business park”, while the design did not ensure safe access on foot to local services and public transport, development manager Kelly Gibbons ruled.

The housing mix was also contrary to county and national policy, in that the affordable homes “would not be appropriately distributed amongst the open market units and would be distinguishable from them”, and did not include any under the Government’s First Homes scheme.

The layout did not pay heed to local context, it lacked a surface water drainage strategy, while noise from both the road and the business park “would not provide acceptable living conditions”, Ms Gibbons said.

The plan also failed deal with impacts on protected grass snakes and bats on the site, or explain how these would be relocated.

Lastly, Piper Homes had not completed a “section 106” agreement with the council, to secure the delivery of the proposed affordable homes and to secure funding towards local infrastructure.

The case has parallels with another in the county earlier this week, when Herefordshire Council refused a 70-home estate at Wormbridge due to a wide range of reasons – despite developers in both cases having engaged with the council and communities on their plans.