THE imminent development of the former SAS headquarters into a huge housing estate could have far-reaching implications for the people of South Hereford.

Among promises being sought from property developer George Wimpey are cash contributions towards education, transport, leisure - and the cost of dying.

Work on the site at Lower Bullingham is expected to start later this month. Wimpey eventually wants to build up to 500 homes on the land, formerly occupied by the country's most secret regiment.

Herefordshire Council has given permission in principle to an outline planning application for the first 160 homes, which will be phase one of the development.

Before this can move forward Wimpey has to sign an agreement committing them to a number of conditions.

These include:

That 36% of phase one, and future phases, should be devoted to affordable homes.

To provide and equip an open space and be responsible for its long-term maintenance.

Provide free bus passes for a year for each adult owner of new homes to encourage people to use public transport.

Make a contribution of £220,800 in phase one towards a community facility.

Contribute £50,000, overall towards providing a cemetery in the city.

Give £80,000 towards classroom provision, with a further £80,000 at a later stage.

Eventually to provide an all weather sports facility and to make highways improvements.

Demolition of buildings on the former army base, including the large radio mast used by the SAS but which is now redundant, can be undertaken without planning permission. But a full application showing the lay-out and more details of the first 160 homes will have to be approved before building can start.

Entrance to the estate will be along Bullingham Lane, off Ross Road.

No changes to the junction are considered necessary for phase one, it being argued that traffic from 160 homes will not be more than from the former SAS headquarters. But when the next two stages are completed it is understood the junction will be controlled by traffic signals.

Access off Hoarwithy Road will be restricted for use by pedestrians and cyclists only, although it is expected that buses will be allowed through to provide an estate service. The former SAS chapel at the base will be retained.

In a report published by George Wimpey in July it stated the company had purchased the old SAS base in March 2001, unconditionally for £5.75 million.

It was anticipated there would be 500 plots and the assumed value with planning permission was £12 million.