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Shops may replace pool and car park
10:00am Friday 8th March 2013 in News
IT’S official – a community area in the heart of Ledbury could be lost in favour of retail development, under plans drawn up by Herefordshire Council.
This could lead to the loss of Ledbury’s swimming pool, youth centre, one town centre car park and the community centre – facilities which could possibly be relocated, through so-called “planning gain windfalls”.
With the publication of the council’s Core Strategy draft plan this week, official confirmation has come that the Lawnside Road area is a possible location for new retail development in the town, and that any retail developers, including supermarkets, will be asked by planners to consider the area should they wish to build in Ledbury.
Under a so-called “sequential search”, the area is considered favourable because of its proximity to the High Street.
The draft Core Strategy draft mentions a Herefordshire Council study for Ledbury in 2012 which “indicates a need for further convenience shopping floor space in the town up to 2031”.
It says: “An area near to the edge of the town centre area at Bye Street/ Lawnside Road is identified as a possible location for additional convenience retail in any sequential search. This will be subjectto the relocation of the swimming pool.”
The youth centre is already set to close on March 31.
The Herefordshire councillor for Ledbury, Peter Watts, who is also a trustee of Halo Leisure, the group that runs the swimming pool for the council, said he was confident that an agreement with the council could secure the facility’s future for the nextfive years, and this should secure the site for that period.
He said: “This should close off wild speculation and rumour.”
He saw no reason why a new pool, perhaps funded by retail development, could not be built near the existing site, perhaps on the Lawnside Road car park, with new parking built into the plans. “The new pool has to be near the centre of town,” he said.
He was not in favour of extensive retail development at Lawnside Road, such as a supermarket.
He said: “We could lose that car parking space, which is valuable to us, and I don’t think that delivery lorries can get up that road. It would block everything up.
“To my mind, it is ludicrous – but OK, let’s go with the system.”
But one Ledbury resident, former retailer, Yvonne White, whose Bye Street house is immediately opposite the Lawnside Road area said: “My view is, hands off! I don’t want to lose our swimming pool and community centre.
“This town fought hard for a bypass, and now they want to get heavy traffic backinto the town?”