NEWS that the developer Gladman has lost its planning appeal for 420 new homes off the Dymock Road is very much to be welcomed.

At last, planning regulations such as the Neighbourhood Development Plan have shown their worth, in what can only be viewed as a major blow to speculative development in Ledbury.

All developers will now – surely – have to look at this judgement and wonder if the game of speculative development is really worth the candle in Ledbury; and the truth is, a galloping expansion of the market town was never very much for the benefit of existing residents, except in one important respect.

Gladman’s Dymock Road estate would have provided extensive new sports fields for Ledbury, and the town does require more sports areas and facilities. This search must go on.

However, the character of Ledbury, as it stands, also requires the surrounding green fields, and the Gladman proposal could easily have led to galloping ribbon development to the south of town, all the way to Dymock, eventually. Who can say?

Either way, the majority of these homes, one suspects, would not have been snapped up by local people; they would have been for incomers keen

– ironically – to live in a rural location.

While Ledbury is a great place to live, and no-one can be blamed for wanting to move here, the town should never be forced to expand at the expense of its own character and heritage.

If Ledbury is to get hundreds more houses, let many of them be social housing, so that young families in particular can afford to stay in the area.