ROSS-on Wye is at risk of letting developers decide what form hundreds of new houses planned for it will take, a local councillor has warned.

Cllr Ed O’Driscoll, Liberal Democrat ward member for Ross East leafleted households in the town urging them to respond to the draft local plan, which will set out what should be built where in Herefordshire between now and 2041.

As it stands, Ross is due to get 1,800 new homes under the plan, of which 1,000 will be on a single parcel of farmland to the east of the town and south of the M50 roundabout.

“This is obviously a major concern,” Cllr O’Driscoll’s leaflet says.

While 35 per cent of the new houses are to be classed as ‘affordable’, this should instead be set as ‘social housing’, to help younger residents who can’t get on the property ladder, coupled with new infrastructure for the town including a new health centre, he urges.

“What I don’t want to see is 1,800 detached four-bedroom homes for commuters working in Bristol or Cheltenham,” he adds.

He explained that Ross residents have an acceptance that new housing is needed, though not as much as is planned, but also a huge concern about the supporting infrastructure.

With a concurrent plan to develop the adjacent Model Farm site as employment land, the town needs to ensure it can keep hold of its young people, rather than risk becoming ‘an ageing dormitory town’, Cllr O’Driscoll warned.

He hoped the campaign, backed by the town’s two other LibDem ward councillors, Chris Bartrum and Louis Stark, “Will let us show there is a groundswell of opinion, to balance the view of developers.”

At Herefordshire Council’s recent public consultation in Ross, Lin Tomlinson observed: “If Ross is going to have a minimum of 1,000 homes and each property will have a least one vehicle, I question do we have the local infrastructure to cope?

“Likewise, the schools are already full and there are also issues at doctors and dentists being at capacity already.

“If the town is forced to have all 1,800 new homes, where are these people going to find somewhere to work locally? Ross is in danger of becoming a dormitory town.

“With an influx of people to the town, the local hospital will have to be upgraded.”

A resident of Walford said that he was disappointed in seeing that a particular site had been put forward for additional housing. He added that people have already objected to a proposal for 40 homes to be built in such a small rural community and had this number reduced to 19. However, this was further reduced to five, following further objections.

He concluded: “Up to now the development in the village has been infill. But now this plot of land has been earmarked for further development, bringing it back up to 40, but the precedent has been set, despite it being part of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

Elaine Weatherhead said: “My main concern is the type of housing as any development will pay only lip service to the needs of those just getting on the housing ladder. I feel that the house prices will be out of the range for people on salaries offered by local employment.

“Additionally, Ross doesn’t have great transport links and therefore these new homeowners will have to have at least one car per household. There will also be knock on implications for the local hospital and doctors, who are already at capacity.

“There are so many issues and consequences that need to be thought through before any building work starts.”

Charlotte Greenman said that the consultation had been useful as aside from the proposed housing development that provision had been made for the inclusion of wildlife corridors.

She said: “I’m not opposed to housing development per se, bit if we are depriving wildlife of their habitat, we need to make provision for this, and I am pleased there appears to be respectful use of the landscape surrounding the development.”