A PLAN to build homes surrounding a prominent community centre, which campaigners claimed would have threatened its future, has been scrapped the Observer can confirm.
It marks a dramatic U-turn for Worcestershire County Council which vowed to contest a decision by Malvern Hills District Council to refuse planning permission for its bid to develop four luxury homes around the Malvern Cube.
With the decision taking place in September last year, the Worcestershire authority had until the end of March to lodge an official appeal, but that date has now passed.
In further good news for supporters of the Albert Road North venue the council has also missed the deadline to submit a similar or identical planning application for free – without the usual application fee – within 12 months of the original proposal.
Members of the Malvern Cube Land Campaign have always maintained they felt the land was part of the agreement when the Malvern Youth and Community Trust signed a 30 year lease for the community centre from the county council in November 2011.
They argued the plot was part of their business strategy and losing it would have threatened the Cube’s long term financial viability.
Following the latest development, Cathy Jackson-Read from the Land Campaign said: “It’s been a bit of a roller coaster but we got there in the end. We now look forward to discussions with the county council on how the land can best be used for the benefit of Malvern Cube and the wider community.
“We wish to thank everyone who supported the campaign.”
In October the council voted in favour of appealing the original planning refusal despite pleas from more than 1,000 signatures on a petition to accept the decision.
With the deadline approaching campaigners were rejoicing when MHDC officers confirmed no appeal had been received, but uncertainty loomed as the county county remained tight lipped on their intentions and it was still possible the official notification had been sent directly to a Government Inspectorate.
But on Monday (April 7) a council spokeswoman confirmed the authority had not lodged a formal appeal.
Coun John Campion Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet member for transformation and changes, said: “The county council will continue to explore all options for the surplus land at Malvern to maximise its assets for the benefit of the council tax payer in the county of Worcestershire.”