THE COUNTY council has refused to rule out trying to build houses on land surrounding Malvern Cube, despite campaigners warning development would threaten the centre’s future.
A proposal for four luxury homes submitted by the authority was refused by Malvern Hills District Council planning committee last month (September) but now Worcestershire County Council confirmed they would seek legal advice on whether or not to contest the decision.
It comes despite a petition containing 1,168 signatures was handed in to a full council meeting held at County Hall on Thursday (October 17).
A motion calling for the council not to lodge an appeal with the Government’s Planning Inspectorate was voted against at that meeting.
Cathy Jackson-Read from the Malvern Land Campaign said the Albert Road North centre would be threatened if the surrounding land was built on.
She added the Cube’s social and environmental value outweighed any capital sum which would be raised by selling it off.
“The site is not surplus to requirements of the Cube, but it is needed to safeguard its viability.
“Loss of the land for the development is highly likely to lead to the loss of the community facility or at least its decline.
“The success of the Malvern Cube is a success story for localism and one which you should be proud of. It has always been an integral part of delivering services to the community.”
Coun John Campion, cabinet member for commissioning, said the council had missed out on up to £350,000 in capital receipts when they made the decision for the Malvern Youth and Community Trust to take on the centre in November 2011.
He argued the council was supportive of community activity which is why they agreed to a 30-year lease with the group for the centre as well as providing a £25,000 grant.
Coun Campion also dismissed the notion the trust were never made aware the council would retain the land stating he ‘didn’t understand’ where the confusion had come from.
Following the meeting, mayor Julian Roskams, also a member of the Malvern Land Campaign, reiterated the trust was only made aware they were not getting the land on the day of agreeing the lease.
He said the trust signed but ‘never gave up the right to the land’.
Mayor Roskams added since the organisation took over the number of visitors to the Cube had quadrupled but a ‘vision’ had been put together for the land which would help the centre become self sufficient.
Visit http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/malvern-cube-land-campaign for more information or to sign the petition.