Plans for five homes in a Herefordshire town have been rejected, partly due to being too near a local wildlife site.

The bid by local firm Villamil Properties was to build the dormer bungalows on a 0.8-hectare (two-acre) field off Fernbank Road to the south of Ross-on-Wye.

Two of the homes would have two bedrooms and a single garage, the remaining three, four bedrooms and double garages. All would have been for sale on the open market.

They would share access onto Fernbank Road with another recent five-home scheme, approved in 2015, where development is described in the current application as “ongoing”.


But lying just within the Wye Valley area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and near the Chase and Merivale Wood, a designated local wildlife site (LWS), home to dormice and several bat species, proved the scheme’s undoing.

The council’s ecology officer said that without a buffer between the homes and the woods, “there is no scientific or legal certainty that the proposed development will not have a detrimental effect on a recognised irreplaceable habitat”.

Its landscape officer meanwhile claimed that “the proposal to squeeze five dwellings into this triangle of land, at a sensitive elevation on the edge of the town, does not conserve or enhance the natural and scenic beauty of the AONB”.

And its transport officer said the access to and from the site by foot and road did not meet the council’s design standards.

Objections were also raised by Ross-on-Wye Town Council, and by nine residents. Herefordshire Ramblers’ Association also objected to the apparent blocking up of a public footpath.

Citing the landscape, ecology and transport officers’ objections, the council’s development manager Simon Withers refused the bid.