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Youth centre for sale in months?
NO guarantee can be given Ledbury’s community hall will not be sold to developers, and the youth centre could be on the open market within six months.
That was the grim situation debated by town councillors at a meeting in the Market House, where Coun Martin Eager said of the Lawnside Road area: “My main concern is the constant threat of development of that site.”
He said he wanted “in cast iron, in stone”, that if a developer came along with “blank cheques”, the community hall would still be safe.
Coun Clive Jupp, chairman of the Community Hall Association and one of its trustees, said: “No one can give that guarantee.I wish I could; though I would never bow to that sort of offer.
“I can’t speak for others.
In five years, time, others might come in, and they could easily accept it.”
The Lawnside Road area is earmarked on Herefordshire Council’s Core Strategy document, the blueprint for county development for the next two decades, as a possible location for new retail development.
As we reported last week, the public consultation on the core strategy, which will shape the future of the town for the next two decades, lasts until April 22.
At the same meeting, Coun Allen Conway questioned the strategy of supporting non-profit making company Ledbury Ventures – headed by town mayor Phill Bettington – taking over the youth centre to save it from developers. The company has until the end of March to submit the paperwork to Herefordshire Council for an asset transfer from the councilto itself.
Coun Conway said: “We are being asked to support Ledbury Ventures with a letter of support, but if all you are looking for is support to save it,to stop anyone else from buying it, that’s the wrong reason for buying, in my opinion.”
Coun Keith Francis said Ledbury Ventures had “six months to put its proposal forward, or the youth centre will go on the open market”.
And Coun Jayne Roberts said: “It is not an ideal building, but where else can our young people go? You have to start somewhere.”
She proposed a letter of support for Ledbury Ventures, which was carried.
WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
LEDBURY people are worried a planning blueprint for the town could lose the swimming pool and other community buildings, while putting far too much pressure on the local infrastructure.
A survey carried out by the Reporter this week revealed unease on the street over Herefordshire Council’s proposals for 700 new homes to the north of the viaduct and retail development at the Lawnside Road area.
The public consultation on the core strategy ends on April 22 and afterwards authority planners will start to treat it as an adopted document, one that has been through a consultation process.
David Williams, aged 30, agreed Ledbury needed more retail variety.
He said: “As a young man,there’sno where in town where I can buy clothes.”
But he added: “I think the problem is, with a town of this size, we have to improve the infrastructure and services to cope with700 new houses.
“Thehighschoolis full, our sewers are as old as time, and some roads are inquite a state.”
Sara Chivers, aged 56, said she found the proposals, “shocking, absolutely shocking”, and she added: “I would not have thought we have the infrastructure to cope with so many new houses.”
Alan Starkey, 76, said: “I don’t like the idea of there not being a youth centre, and we are already short of community halls here.
“Do we need another supermarket here?
Frankly, if it was located somewhere on the bypass, I would go to that. ButLawnside Road?Where would be the parking? I’mnotin favour.”
Kathleen Hodson, 71, said she was “dead against” the idea of so many new houses.
She said finding employment for incomers could be a problem.
“Where would they work? What would they do?” she said.
Anne Griffiths, 62, said she needed to study the details of the proposals before making any comment, but she had concerns the issues could prove divisive.
She said: “I think it is very hard to get a cohesive number of people in agreement on an issue, without too much division.