CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a ‘soulless urban development’ in Alfrick have been knocked back, much to the delight of village residents.
Proposals for 21 homes at Clay Green Farm came before a packed Malvern Hills District Council planning committee with fears the scheme would ‘rip the heart out’ of the rural area.
But applause broke out at the end of a heated meeting when councillors opted against any development on the Folly Road site, which is owned by the district council leader Coun David Hughes.
Plans were originally heard at a Northern Area Development Management Committee, but it was referred on to the main committee due to ‘sensitivity issues’ over the application.
Coun John Raine, who moved for refusal last Thursday (January 5), said: “I feel strongly this planning application should never have come to this main committee.
“Sensitivity is not a material planning consideration so I am surprised we are in this position.
“In my 15 years as a councillor I have never been in such an intimidating and difficult position as this as it is on the land owned by the leader of this council.
“I am really concerned the form of development proposed would completely alter a special countryside view, it would transform this area.”
But Coun Rebecca Massey said the application should be considered solely on its planning merits alone.
“This sensitivity issue has really over burdened the debate,” she added. “We have to look at the facts and this development could be quite attractive.
“It could fit in with the environment because there is certainly room for improvement there.”
The site, which would have included eight affordable homes, had an application for a three-house development knocked back in 2001 and parish councillor Louise Randall highlighted the need for consistency in the decisions.
Coun Tom Wells also said any building on the site would create substantial traffic problems at an already dangerous junction.
He said: “This area is part of a rich countryside. And to replace that with a conglomeration of new housing would have an adverse impact on the land.
“The setting would be affected by this awful, soulless, urban development which we unfortunately see so much of in Worcestershire these days.”
Coun Anthony Warburton, who represents the ward, added: “This has far too many houses on this site and it is inappropriate.
“It is putting 21 additional homes using a junction which has not been improved in any way, if proposals were for fewer houses at least concerns about the junction would be reduced.”
A total of six councillors voted against proposals, three were in favour of the plans and one member abstained.