A planned new 350-home estate immediately west of Hereford threatens the “precious” Lugg Meadow nearby, according to conservation groups which manage it.

Residents have also lodged over a thousand individual objections to the plan, by local builder STL Group.

The Hereford Times Our Precious Meadow campaign calls for the scheme to be thrown out because, among other reasons, we believe it compromises the meadow, which is an important asset to Hereford. 

But what is so special about this three-mile stretch of land a stone’s throw from the city?


The Lugg and nearby Hampton Meadows make up a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) covering 155 hectares in total – of which 46 hectares immediately to the north of the A438 is owned and managed by Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.

HWT’s nature recovery manager Sarah King called it “an absolute jewel of Herefordshire’s natural history”, for which a big new development right alongside “will be devastating for its sensitive plants, birds and animals”.

Hereford Times: The Lugg Meadow, which will be harvested for hay next monthThe Lugg Meadow, which will be harvested for hay next month (Image: LDRS)

The move comes at a key time for the delicate site, which is getting funding government body Natural England to boot its community of rare flowers and other plants.

According to the trust’s projects manager at the reserve David Hutton, Lugg Meadow amounts to more than a tenth of the country’s total remaining floodplain meadow habitat, of which only small fragments remain.


As a “Lammas meadow” it is the product of a traditional hay-growing cycle, which Mr Hutton says has created “an ancient cultural landscape”.

It’s not unusual for the wildflower-rich grassland to flood. But as these are increasing in volume and frequency, and with ancient drains blocked, more nutrients enter the soil. This favours fewer, more vigorous species like dock and thistle – which also makes the resulting hay less sellable, he explained.

“We can’t do much about climate change, but we can reinstate the drains, bring back cattle grazing, change the mowing regime and reintroduce rare plants in new locations,” he said.

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Mowing will, however, have to avoid nests of the rare but charismatic curlew, for which the meadows remain one of its last breeding sites in the county.

Plantlife, which owns and manages a similar area of the meadows, also vigorously opposes the housing estate plan.

Its policy manager Jenny Hawley said it “would risk irreversible damage to this precious, sensitive ecosystem through increased water pollution, noise and light pollution, road traffic and footfall from visitors”.