LEDBURY is now likely to get 1000 more new homes than local people were led to expect under Herefordshire Council's planning blueprint for the future, The Core Strategy.

Under the Core Strategy, Ledbury was set to expand over the next few decades by around 800 new homes.

But the actual likely figures are climbing dramatically because Gladman the developers have just launched public consultation over proposals to build 470 new homes off the Dymock Road, adjacent to a site where Barratt Homes plans to build 321 new homes.

With a further 100 new homes earmarked for the town's old cricket pitch site, off New Street, and a further 625 houses planned by Bloor for north of the viaduct, and with Bovis planning 300 houses for Leadon Way, the extent of Ledbury's likely expansion is likely to be in the region of 1800 new homes or more.

The news of the Gladman proposal has been met with dismay by Anthony Peake, Ledbury Civic Society's planning and conservation officer, who said: "It’s the equivalent of a ram-raid and we need to stop it and tell them to go away and mess about somewhere else!"

Town Councillor, Annette Crowe called the proposal "horrendous for Ledbury", given the large numbers of houses already earmarked for the town and the strain placed on infrastructure.

She said: "With all of these houses, that needs to be looked at. We need more doctors, with extensions to the existing doctors' surgeries, we need more NHS dentists and we need more car parking."

But Cllr Martin Eager said so-called planning gain windfalls could help improve the town's infrastructure and a more positive outlook was needed.

He said: "My initial reaction is to say no way to Gladman, but my personal view is that Ledbury needs the extra population to keep the shops open, and planning gains could help with the infrastructure.

"The town, as it stands, cannot cope with a vast increase in the population. But we can work with the developers, instead of fighting them. There could be huge gains for the town."

Meanwhile, Cllr Andrew Warmington, who is both a town and county councillor for Ledbury, has welcomed the fact that he and his fellow Ledbury county councillors, Cllrs Liz Harvey and Emma Holton, will hold further discussions with planning officers about the Barratt Homes's proposal for 321 homes to the south of Leadon Way.

In a statement prepared for Ledbury town councillors, Cllr Warmington said of the further discussions: "This means that it will be at least possible to get through some more input than would have been possible, had the current plans been waved through, as recommended by officers."

No closing date has been given by Gladman for the end of its consultation period.

A spokesman for Gladman said this week: "Any comments will be received by us, right up to the point of our application."

And no date has been set as yet by Gladman for the submission of its planning application.

Gladman's proposal can be viewed at: http://www.your-views.co.uk/uploads/images/Dymockroad/Information%20Leaflet/leaflet_large.pdf

The consultation leaflet proposes access off the Dymock Road, or from the north, and it states: The proposed site is a suitable and sustainable location for new development. We believe that new homes will enhance the town and support its existing services and facilities."