BARRATT Homes has defended its proposed layout for the stalled Hawk Rise estate in Ledbury, following claims that affordable homes closest to noise nuisance will have windows that can't be opened and would require artificial ventilation.

The developer is still waiting for a green light from Herefordshire Council, almost a year after all official building work at the Leadon Way site was put on hold, following a court ruling.

Cllr Liz Harvey, who is both a town and county councillor, spoke out at last week's county council planning committee, where the controversial proposals were discussed.

She told the Reporter: "There were significant concerns expressed by objectors, me and by committee members at the landscape and amenity impact of the high fence and soil bund measures being proposed to reduce the effects of the noise from the bypass and the cheese factory.

"But what was most worrying is that some houses won't be open to open their windows without experiencing significant noise nuisance. In the meeting, Barratt’s lawyer submitted that the double/triple glazing proposed to be installed alongside ‘alternative means of ventilation’ – i.e. air conditioning vents and wall fans – are accepted forms of mitigation. I pointed out this might be the case in central London or adjacent to a motorway flyover, but not in a Herefordshire market town on the edge of open countryside.

"Affordable rented and affordable part rent-part buy houses would be used to buffer the privately owned housing from noise nuisance along the Dymock Road and Leadon Way. My view is that people living in social and affordable homes should be able to expect the same high quality of build and amenity as is experienced by people able to afford to buy their own homes on this development. We should not be using the less well off as human shields to buffer four and five bedroom properties."

Barratt stopped building work on the site last summer after Ornua won a judicial review, having raised concerns about the noise levels from its nearby factory.

The Reporter understands Ornua is still objecting to the layout, but Barratt is sounding a confident note.

A Barratt spokesman said: "We currently have a live planning application for the Hawk Rise development and are in continued discussions with Herefordshire Council. We have not received an objection from the Council’s Housing Officer or West Mercia Housing Group, who are purchasing the affordable housing units, with regards to their location.”

With the planning decision deferred again, this time until July 24 at the earliest, Herefordshire Council is playing its cards close to its chest.

A Herefordshire Council spokesman said: "We cannot comment on the application at this time as we cannot risk prejudicing the application pre-determination. The application was deferred at planning committee; the next scheduled planning committee is July 24 although the business of this meeting has not yet been set."

The spokesman added that the original planning permission for the development, which was put on hold by the judicial review, was granted under Planning Inspectorate Appeal and not by Herefordshire Council.

Barratt's revised application is for 247 homes on the site.