A plan to build nine homes at a Herefordshire village has been rejected by a Government-appointed inspector.

Churcham Homes, of Churcham in Gloucestershire, applied in August last year to expand northwards its recently completed 10-home development off the A40 at Castle End Farm, Lea near Ross-on-Wye.

Herefordshire Council failed to decide on the application within the set time, but has since said that planning permission would have been refused.

Churcham Homes appealed against this lack of determination.

But inspector Bhupinder Thandi has now backed the council’s “putative” decision, concluding that the impact of the nine homes on the Grade II*-listed Castle End manor house opposite, and on the “safe and efficient operation” of the main road, “would significantly and demonstrably outweigh its benefits”.

And while Churcham had questioned the council’s claim to have a deliverable five-year supply of housing, saying this “jumped miraculously by huge percentages in the last review”, Mr Thandi found “no substantive evidence” to refute the council’s position on this.

He also refused an appeal by the company for costs.