Ledbury Town Council has robustly defended its policy of standing alone in an appeal against a housing developer, despite the risk of huge financial consequences.

These could be not only its own expenses, but costs paid to Bloor Homes as well, if the developer wins the appeal.

This follows a warning last week, from former town councillor Bob Barnes, that the town council was effectively at risk of bankruptcy by Christmas, when the decision will be known.

But this week, the town council signalled its intention to recover costs from Herefordshire Council, to the tune of around £105,000, because the county council backed down from an appeal challenge by Bloor Homes, leaving the town council standing alone, to challenge the developer at an online appeal.

And Ledbury's mayor, Cllr Daniel Vesma, said Ledbury's opposition had already led to Bloor altering its highway design plans, including proposed alterations for the Bromyard Road and Hereford Road junction, a notorious pinch point for traffic.

Bloor Homes launched the appeal after Herefordshire Council threw out a plan for 625 homes to the north of Ledbury viaduct, mainly due to concerns over single access to the new estate from an already congested Bromyard Road.

But the county council decided not to contest Bloor’s appeal, while the town council went ahead, hiring a solicitor, barrister and expert witnesses.

Speaking this week, Ledbury’s mayor, Cllr Daniel Vesma said: "It was not the council’s original intention to participate in the inquiry, but when officers of Herefordshire Council took the decision not to defend the planning authority’s own decision to refuse this application, the town council tabled a public debate on the matter and took the decision to support the community we represent and to defend the democratically arrived at decision of the county’s planning committee.

"Bloor have been forced to make significant alterations to their own highway design proposals during the inquiry in response to the town council’s evidence. This makes it clear that the planning committee was right to refuse the application, and that the town council’s participation in the inquiry has evidenced the damaging impact that traffic from the development will have on the local area if it is allowed to proceed."

Cllr Vesma added: "Since February, the evolving cost implications of participating in the appeal have been discussed publicly at town council meetings and provision has been made from general reserves to cover the forecast costs. The allocated budget for the planning action currently sits at £105,000 and will be further reviewed this week when a detailed quarterly examination will be undertaken.

"If the appeal is rejected – as we hope and expect it will be – the Town Council will feel justified in seeking legal advice regarding the recovery of its inquiry costs from Herefordshire Council.”

Both Bloor and Herefordshire Council declined to comment, ahead of the appeal outcome being known.