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Fears homes go-ahead will be end of the 'gap'

Malvern Editorial 2nd Jul, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

RESIDENTS have expressed their frustration at the district council which is set to approve a controversial housing development despite already turning it down twice.

The council’s Southern Area Development Management Committee (SADMC) has thrown out proposals for 55 homes at Eastward Road in Upper Howsell on two previous occasions stating it would harm the ‘significant gap’ of land between Malvern and Leigh Sinton.

But now the bid put forward by Taylor Wimpey, will be re-debated tomorrow (Thursday, July 3) by the authority’s Planning Committee after being called in by officers who have recommended it is approved because the council is currently failing its housing targets.

Richard Bamford, chairman of the Eastward Road Action Group, said: “The SADMC has now declined this twice. Democratically taken decisions should stand if the developer decides to appeal then so be it.

“The significant gap has served Malvern well for many years preserving its traditional open green spaces, it must be protected.

“Sadly across the district planners now seem only too willing to acquiesce to the demands of developers.”

Mr Bamford added the area’s schools and roads were already under pressure from the hundreds of homes developed nearby at Malvern Vale and claimed the problems would be exacerbated by further properties at Eastward Road.

Coun Clive Smith, who moved refusal the last time it was debated, described the bid as a ‘Trojan horse’ arguing it would lead to further development in the gap.

“It is sad it has been called in to planning I think it is totally wrong,” he said.

“We had a strong enough case if it went to appeal, now we have got to fight it all over again.

“We should stick to our convictions but we seem to live in a climate of fear.

“This is not just about 55 homes, it’s about what potentially comes after and you are talking about 200.”

Gary Williams the council’s head of planning and housing, admitted officers considered housing developments in the significant gap as unacceptable.

But he said the council could only demonstrate 3.36 years worth of land for housing, falling short of the five year national requirement, rendering the authority’s local planning policies out of date, with Central Government rules taking precedent.

Mr Williams described the development at Eastward Road as ‘sustainable’ claiming it would infill the plot and ’round off’ existing homes in the area.

He concluded if the proposal was approved there would still be a mile worth of land between Leigh Sinton and Malvern admitting there would be some harm to the gap but it was outweighed by the benefits of the new homes.

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