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Hundreds petition against homes plan

Malvern Editorial 16th Jan, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

MORE than 250 residents have urged members of the district council’s Planning Committee to defy their own officers and refuse proposals for 53 homes in Leigh Sinton.

The heartfelt pleas have been made ahead of tomorrow’s (Thursday) meeting which will determine the fate of CALA Homes’ proposal for a development on Kiln Lane.

Council planning officers have recommended the bid go-ahead despite admitting it will cause ‘harm’ to the environment. However in a report, Gary Williams, the council’s head of planning and housing, declared the harm would be ‘limited’ and any negative impact would not outweigh the benefits of the development.

He also said the houses would not compromise the ‘significant gap’ – the land which lies between Leigh Sinton and Malvern, distinguishing the two areas.

Mr Williams concluded the development would be sustainable.

His findings are at odds with the decision made by the council’s Northern Area Development Management Committee which threw out the scheme in September over fears it would cause demonstrable harm to the gap.

However the application was referred to the Planning Committee after officers declared its ramifications had district-wide significance and the decision was inconsistent with a recent proposal to build homes in Kempsey.

Dozens of residents are opposed to the plans, concerned Leigh Sinton does not have the infrastructure to cope with new residents and also fearing the village will lose its identity and become part of an ‘urban sprawl’.

Les Williamson, who spoke against the proposal at the September meeting, said: “This Significant Gap is meant to enhance the open countryside preventing the coalescence of Malvern and Leigh Sinton.

“Building these houses would cause demonstrable harm to the openness of the land and the quality of life currently afforded to people who live close by.

“It’s not just the people of Leigh Sinton who will suffer if this goes ahead. Once the gap is breached the floodgates will be opened and the swarm of speculative developers that are queueing up will make the most of it.

“If these unelected planning officers get their way then what use is there in having parish and district councils to represent the interests of the local people.”

Thursday’s Planning Committee meeting will begin at 6.30pm in the council chamber on Avenue Road, Great Malvern.

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