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Fears area could be used for superstore
A PROPOSAL that could put a supermarket or retail park on a well-used community area will be discussed by concerned town watchdogs next week.
The trustees of the Ledbury and District Civic Society are asking just what is happening with the Lawnside Road area, where one after another of its public buildings have either closed, like the ambulance station, are about to close, like the youth centre, or may be threatened with eventual closure, like the swimming pool.
In a meeting on Monday, the trustees will discuss concerns raised by Anthony Peake, an architect and chairman of the society’s planning and conservation group, and they will call for more open discussion with Herefordshire Council. Writing in the Society's newsletter, Mr Peake said: “There have been many rumours circulating recently about the future of the swimming pool, the youth centre, the fire station and the community centre, collectively known as Lawnside.
“There has been talk of the whole area being sold off to the supermarket, with the said supermarket funding a new pool complex on the edge of town.
“We feel there needs to be open and frank debate about the future of this site before decisions are taken by Herefordshire Council that may not be best for the town in the long term.”
Chris Johnson, chairman of the Civic Society said: “I don’t disagree with what Tony is saying.
“My personal view is that the area ought to be kept for a swimming pool, community centre and car park for the town. A large scale retail development there would cause significant problems with traffic.”
Alex Clive, vice chairman of the Society said: “We would resist the loss of it as a community site. There needs to be open discussions.”
Herefordshire Council’s Locality Master Plans were discussed at Cabinet Level on October 20, 2011.
The report says of the Lawnside Road area: “This site comprises of several publicly-owned buildings and there is considerable private sector retail interest in the redevelopment of the entire site, should services be able to relocate.”
The report was in part based on some work undertaken for the authority by the consultants E.C. Harris.
But Coun Peter Watts said this week that the swimming pool’s operators, Halo, were now close to an agreement with Herefordshire Council that would secure the pool’s future for five years.
And he said he was “fairly sure” the Lawnside Road area would be protected as a community area under the emerging Local Development Plan, Ledbury’s planning blueprint for the next three decades.
Herefordshire Council spokeswoman Carla Preston said there were no plans.