A DISASTER is looming for the town’s cricket ground as developers eye up the land, says a sports chief.
Ledbury Sports Federation chairman Bob Barnes said it is “crunch time” for the cricket ground as several developers are monitoring its six green acres, with a view to building there.
Coun Barnes, who is also chairman of Ledbury’s planning and economic development committee, said it would be a “disaster” for the town if the cricket ground, off New Street, were to be lost to new housing.
He said: “Ledbury is very much short of green spaces. For a town of this size, we only have 25 per cent of what we require.
This would be a disaster.”
The shortage of green spaces was a major factor in the setting up of the Ledbury Sports Federation, and Coun Barnes said the shortage was evident with the situation at Ledbury Town Football Club, whose ground adjoins that ofthe cricket club.
He said: “Ledbury TFC is operating six teams off one pitch.”
Ledbury estate agents Stooke Hill and Walshe has confirmed the cricket ground owner, Enterprise Inns, has the land on the market.
Alister Walshe said: “Various interested parties have come forward, but no decision has been made as yet.
“I don’t know which way it is going forward at the moment.”
Mr Walshe would not confirm the value of the land.
Coun Barnes added: “Without planning permission, the land is worthless.”
For the next 18 months the ground is protected under Herefordshire Council’s Unitary Development Plan (UDP) as an area of green open space. Coun Barnes is hopeful when the UDP is replaced by the Local Development Plan, in 2014, the land will still be protected from developers in this way.
Failing that, he is hopeful that Ledbury’s emerging neighbourhood plan, once subject to a public referendum, will be able to protect the ground as green open space for the next 15 years.
One of Herefordshire’s councillors for Ledbury, Peter Watts, said he was “99 per cent certain” the cricket ground would be listed as protected open space on the draft Local Development Plan, which is due out this spring, and which will be followed by a period of public consultation.
He said: “I am pretty much satisfied that the whole thing is pretty much protected.”