RESIDENTS have called for a proposed housing site in Malvern Wells to be taken out of the South Worcestershire Development Plan after a controversial bid to build almost 50 homes was rejected.
An application to construct 46 houses on the former playing fields on Rothwell Road were thrown out by Malvern District Council’s Southern Area Development Committee at a meeting last Wednesday (April 22).
But fears have been raised that Cala Homes will appeal the decision and the work could get the go-ahead, despite the site being listed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Peter Walter, who has lived on Rothwell Road for more than 25 years, has been campaigning against any form of development on the land for about four years and told The Observer if it was given the green light it would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ for future work.
“It is a very important area because it is in full view of a long stretch of the hills and it is part of the AONB country landscape,” he said. “But it is not just important to residents but also for visitors who come to Malvern.
“We are delighted it has been rejected but we are conscious Cala Homes can appeal to over-turn the decision but because it was such a unanimous rejection of the plan we hope it will get protection.
“I have had an email saying ‘we should really push for this to be removed from the SWDP plan’. The overwhelming feeling of the council was it was too big of a development and it was not justified.”
The ‘disused’ land was the former playing fields for the Abbey College and has long been earmarked for houses, but committee member Chris O’Donnell said it would be ‘criminal’ to build there.
“The developer has failed to provide the computer generated imagery requested by the officers to show how the development would look from the hills and I believe they may have failed to do this because they might know it would show a blot on the landscape,” she said.
“This major development should not be allowed.”
Melanie Baker, portfolio holder for planning and housing, added: “The special qualities of the Malvern Hills and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty provides enjoyment to residents and visitors alike, the development would cause visible intrusion upon these special qualities.
‘The scale and appearance of the proposed development would be readily apparent from the Malvern Hills Conservation area, alien and out of character with the countryside and therefore cause substantial and detrimental harm to the setting of the AONB.”