A large area of green open space within Ledbury’s boundaries, behind the Full Pitcher pub in New Street, has been earmarked for 93 new homes by housing association, Connexus.

The site is the former town cricket ground, and it is adjacent to Ledbury Town Football Group, which is also earmarked for development, under Herefordshire Council’s planning blueprint for the next two decades, The Core Strategy.

Ledbury’s mayor, Cllr Phillip Howells, who is also chairman of the town’s Neighbourhood Plan Development Group, stressed it was “early days” for the application; but while he raised concerns about the loss of green open space in a town where there is a recognised shortage of sports fields, he also welcomed the prospect of much-needed, genuinely affordable housing.

Cllr Howells said: “The football ground and the former cricket ground have been part of the Core Strategy for quite some time – earmarked for development. As the current chairman of the town’s Neighbourhood Plan Development Group, I can say that one of our priorities is to identify green spaces in Ledbury, because there is a concern about the provision of green spaces; but this site will be developed.”

The 2.75 hectare can be developed because Ledbury Cricket Club moved to a new ground, off Orlham Lane, in 2017.

Ledbury Town Football Club ground, adjacent to the old cricket ground, is also earmarked for development. Property Solutions Ledbury owns the existing Ledbury Town football ground off New Street, and it wants to build 38 to 40 homes there. But a planning ruling means it must re-home the football club first of all, as this is yet to happen.

Meanwhile, as development continues, the search for sufficient sports ground provision in Ledbury goes on.

Back in November, when plans for a new sports complex off the Dymock Road fell through, after the developer Gladman lost a planning appeal for a 425 home estate at the location, Ledbury Sports Federation went on record to say that the town “falls far short of the sports provision it actually should have for its population”.

However the town, which currently has around 10,000 residents, looks set to continue to expand.

Ian Beer, a member of the Ledbury Sports Federation, said: "When the cricket pitch was sold to the developer, we all knew that the old pitch would be built upon.

That triggered off some of our worries and we have been lobbying ever since. One of the problems is the fact that playing pitches are moving away from the centre so that young players have to rely on adults to drive them there. It gives the impression that sporting facilities are tending to grow piecemeal without any overall plan. To be fair, I think the Cricket Club is pleased with their transition to a new site."

Connexus, the ‘not for profit’ housing association which wants to build the new estate on the former cricket pitch behind the Full Pitcher on New Street, said in its planning application that the proposed new development would be “wholly affordable and will incorporate a mix of shared ownership, rent to buy and affordable rent.”

The developer states: “These will be approximately split into equal numbers”.

Architects working on the scheme say the proposed development will provide a wide mix of house types creating a varied and interesting scheme within the context of the town.

There will be a mix of one to three-bedroom affordable homes and which will be built in a variety of styles.

The development would retain the entrance onto the site from New Street. Off-road parking would be in front or at the sides of the proposed homes, and parking spaces would be broken up with landscaping zones for trees.

Developers hope to create a ‘green corridor’ with a footpath and cycle way through the centre of the estate.

“The green corridor will provide a safe and friendly environment for residents and families to meet and play in this central area of the site,” the design and access document reads.

“The properties on the outer edges of the site will benefit from the views onto the surrounding open countryside and existing football ground.”

However, the county's right of way officers have objected to the scheme because a footpath crossing the site would be obstructed by parking places.

“It is not acceptable for vehicles to park on the right of way,” the officer said.

People have until January 17 to comment on the proposals which Herefordshire Council are expected to consider by March 11.