Homes could be first of hundreds
Plans have been submitted for a 130-home estate which could open the door to hundreds more in a town.
A consortium of developers wants to build on a swathe of farmland off Nottingham Road, Ashby.
The outline application, submitted to North West Leicestershire District Council, is the first phase in a proposed scheme for hundreds of homes on Money Hill.
It is the council's preferred location for 605 houses earmarked for Ashby under its core strategy to secure land for up to 9,700 more homes in the district by 2031.
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Opponents said it would lead to overdevelopment of Ashby, threatening its identity as an historic market town and putting unacceptable pressure on infrastructure such as roads and schools.
David Price, of Marlborough Way, was among hundreds of people who attended a public exhibition of the plans at Ashby School in December. He said: "The land is unsuitable for development on this scale.
"Once you start building north of Nottingham Road, the momentum will be irresistible to carry on right the way out to the ring road.
"There's a danger of Ashby being swamped by development and becoming too big – threatening its very identity as an historic market town."
Mr Price, who led the Bypass Ashby Now Group in the 1990s, said: "We built the bypass to take traffic away from Ashby and the town centre.
"But at this rate, with all this development, we'll end up back where we started."
The application for 130 homes includes a medical centre, parks and open spaces and reed beds and ponds to minimise the risk of flooding.
A junction would be built in Nottingham Road, plus separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists linking the estate with the town centre.
The overall Money Hill proposals include a primary school and care homes.
Matthew Inman, spokesman for the consortium, which includes Colonnade, Taylor Woodrow and Bloor Homes, said: "Money Hill is a highly sustainable location for future housing growth in Ashby, with good links to the town centre.
"Our proposals have been informed through engagement with residents.
"They will not only help deliver much-needed new homes and a medical centre in the first phase, but will also provide a new primary school and extra care homes."
Chris Tandy, vice-chairman of Ashby Civic Society, said: "I went to a public exhibition talking about 600 homes last month. I'm confused.
"There are obviously serious problems with delivering this site, with developers' proposals changing from 1,600 houses to 600 homes and now a submitted proposal for only 130 ."
A drop-in public exhibition is being held on Wednesday, from 4pm to 8pm, at Ashby School, Nottingham Road.