A Herefordshire village couple have been given several reasons why their plan to build three new houses on their land can’t go ahead.

Mr & Mrs D Brooks of Forge Cottage, Bircher north of Leominster sought permission to build one four-bedroom and two three-bedroom homes on an adjacent half-acre plot by Leys Lane.

Bircher is among the settlements targeted for “proportionate housing development” in the county development plan, and the site, within the village boundary, is earmarked for new housing in the village’s neighbourhood plan, their application pointed out.

“Considerable care” had been taken in the houses’ siting, form and design to integrate them into the village, all of which lies within a conservation area, it said.


But planning officer Ollie Jones objected to the fact that the plan only covered part of the allocated housing site.

This “disaggregation” would make it harder “to secure a well-planned and coordinated form of development across the site as whole”, or to ensure “a policy-compliant scheme which delivers an appropriate housing mix”, he said.

He acknowledged that the larger size of the properties was in line with demand in the rural Leominster area.

But the density would be “so much higher” than the rest of the village, and so would “be at odds with its prevailing rural and agrarian character”.

He also felt the design was “overly suburban” in form, with the individual plans “somewhat distinct from one another, as three unrelated dwellings”.

It would also impact on road safety at the junction between Leys Lane and the B4362, which is already “substandard by virtue of its visibility, gradient, alignment and manoeuvrability”.

Nor had it been shown that the proposal would not adversely effect the River Lugg / Wye special area of conservation, nor that foul water drainage would not pose a risk of contaminating watercourses.

He also considered the mains water supply to the houses would be insufficient.

Lastly, there was nothing to mitigate possible harm to “multiple species” of protected bats in the area, he concluded.

Several of these concerns had been raised by Yarpole Group Parish Council, which added in its submission that residents who came to a parish meeting to discuss the application in June “had not been consulted directly, and it is disappointing that the requirement to inform neighbours of an application no longer appears to exist”.