A 'SUPER HUB' could provide a new home for Ledbury Town Football Club and other sports.

That's the view of Ledbury and District Sports Federation which wants to see a new 'super sports hub' built off the Dymock Road.

Ledbury's new Neighbourhood Plan, a development blueprint for the next 20 years, lacks earmarked areas for new sports fields, and now the Federation is calling for a hub to the south of the town.

Federation chairman, John Wilesmith, who addressed the town council last week said that while Ledbury RFC, off the Ross Road, was in "a reasonable position" and Ledbury Cricket Club was "settled" in its new home, off Orlham Lane, other sports were facing challenging times.

He said: "Even before the additional houses are built in Ledbury, we already have a shortfall of land available for playing fields – but football faces the greatest pressure.

"Football faces a difficult future, even though it is more popular than either rugby or cricket. We understand there is consent to build on Ledbury Town Football Club, once an alternative site for football has been identified. To the best of our knowledge, no land has been earmarked for such a purpose."

Outline planning permission was granted to The Silverwood Partnership for 100 new homes behind the Full Pitcher, in 2015, on fields used at the time by both the football and cricket club. The cricket club has since moved.

Mr Wilesmith said: "With the additional housing the population is set to increase by 50 per cent in the next few years. It was not that long ago Sport England identified that Ledbury was 20 acres short of recreational land."

And the Federation has identified other potential problems for other sporting activities in Ledbury.

Mr Wilesmith said: "We understand that Halo’s contract with the John Masefield High School expires this year, thus putting squash, badminton and basketball at risk."

Halo runs sports facilities on behalf of Herefordshire Council.

Mr Wilesmith added: "The astroturf at the school is in a dire condition and in need of replacement.

"It would appear that we are sleepwalking into disaster for future generations of the town.

"The recent introduction of tax on sugar in soft drinks is clear evidence that we all need to keep active and healthy. We have a responsibility to provide a decent legacy for forthcoming generations."

As developers eye up the south of town, the Federation believes there is "a golden opportunity to establish a sports super-hub to the south of Ledbury, which could potentially resolve many of the public concerns".

Mr Wilesmith said developers were "sympathetic" to the idea and added: "If football pitches were to be located on the Dymock Road, then all three major clubs are within walking distance of the town.

"The Football Foundation is supportive of the establishment of a full-sized astroturf pitch as part of the football relocation to Dymock Road."

The John Masefield High School, which has a leisure centre on-site, has confirmed its contract for that centre ends this autumn.

School business manager, Wendy Bradbeer said: "The Joint Use Agreement between Herefordshire Council, the high school and the English Sports Council expires on September 30.

"The school is currently holding exploratory meetings to discuss the future of community sport and to determine a vision for its future. We are committed to ensuring that community use continues but need to secure funding for running costs and capital investment to improve facilities."

Ledbury Town Council chairman Nina Shields said: "We welcomed Mr Wilesmith’s presentation and share his concerns about the Neighbourhood Plan. Many of us were extremely disappointed that there was no serious provision for sports facilities. These are definitely on the agenda for the working party looking to update the plan.

"We are delighted that the Sports Federation is active again and look forward to working with them."

A Herefordshire Council spokesperson said: “It is one of our priorities to encourage residents to live healthy and independent lives, and we are committed to promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles across the county. Land for sporting purposes must be allocated through the planning process and the council only has responsibility to identify shortfalls in provision through the Core Strategy and associated documents such as the Playing Pitch Assessment and Outdoor Sports Investment Plan.

“We have been working for a number of years to establish the need for outdoor sports facilities in Ledbury to inform the development of the Core Strategy, including working in conjunction with the Ledbury Sports Federation and the Herefordshire Football Association to ensure that sports participation and active lifestyles are encouraged in Ledbury.

“We are currently looking for a site to accommodate the needs of both Ledbury Swifts FC and the relocation of Ledbury Town FC to develop a football hub for the town. We are continuing to work with local organisations to find a suitable location."