PROPOSALS for 55 homes in Upper Howsell yards from a ‘dangerous’ railway crossing have been thrown out for the third time.
Malvern Hills District Council’s Planning Committee defied the wishes of its planning officers to refuse Taylor Wimpey’s application on Thursday (July 3) and uphold the original decision made by the authority’s Southern Area Development Management Committee earlier this year.
It was deemed the site off Eastward Road would encroach too much into the ‘significant gap’ – green land which keeps Malvern Link separate from the village of Leigh Sinton.
Fears were also raised the landowners would seek to build on neighbouring fields which they also occupy.
Officers had recommended the application be given the green light because the council is currently failing its national target to have five years worth of land for housing.
Although, that fact was also called into question on the night, when Coun Paul Tuthill called for an update on the situation after pointing out the council’s current figure of 3.36 years was from November before several large housing applications had been approved. Officers said they were in the process of obtaining the latest figures but warned the council was still likely to be short of the target due to the Government Inspector’s call for more housing in the South Worcestershire Development Plan – a housing blueprint for Malvern for the next 16 years.
On a night where more than half a dozen residents spoke against the plans, further concerns were raised particularly about the level of traffic which would be generated, existing sewage problems in the area and the close proximity of the site to a rail crossing where there have been fatalities.
It was also heavily argued primary schools in the area simply did not have the space for the extra pupils and the issue could not be solved with ‘one off’ financial contributions from the developer.
Parent Anne-Marie March said: “Cramming children into a full school means children will miss out. All of this development does more harm than good to local schools.”
Coun Helen Massey also argued it was a ‘piecemeal’ approach to simply add extra buildings to schools adding that extra pupils would put too much pressure on teaching resources.
Stuart Field speaking on behalf of Taylor Wimpey claimed the development would not be an ‘unreasonable’ encroachment into the significant gap and urged the committee to be consistent with their previous decision to approve a similar size housing application at the north end of the land in Kiln Lane.
He added the developer would provide a ‘substantial’ package of financial contributions to mitigate the concerns and pointed out the proposal would generate about £600,000 in community investment through the New Homes Bonus scheme.
All committee members voted to refuse the plans apart from chairman Adam Rea who abstained.