A PACKED public meeting burst into unanimous applause as Malvern Hills Conservators threw out a bid to open 24 acres of rural land for development.

The hastily arranged special board meeting on Thursday was called for board members to consider a request for access across Conservators land to a field between Guarlford Road and Hall Green Close – a necessity if development were ever to take place.

More than 70 concerned residents turned up to the meeting, causing it to be delayed for almost 15 minutes while it was moved from the Malvern Hills District Council House to the larger Priory Lodge Hall next door.

As we reported last week, many were concerned by a report circulated before the meeting recommending the access request be turned down for financial reasons – irrespective of whether or not the board was prepared to grant an easement.

But their fears soon turned to joy as, one-byone, every board member present spoke against access being granted.

The tone was set by a statement from chairman Brian Pilcher, who was absent due to ill health, in which he declared himself “absolutely opposed”.

“This (refusal) is an action that Malvern would and should expect of us,”

he said.

David Hawkins called the approach to Malvern along the Guarlford Road “unique for any British town” and said: “If we were to facilitate development there, how could we call ourselves Conservators?”.

Residents were also concerned by a reference in the meeting papers suggesting development of the land would be “welcomed”

in nearby Newland, which is being eyed up by planners for 700 new homes.

But Tom Yapp, who represents Newland on the Conservators, said: “I am against any kind of development like this. We in Newland have been trying to fight this sort of thing for the last five years.”

Board members decided not to make any mention of finances in their decision and voted unanimously to decline the offer saying they were not prepared to grant an easement.

Hall Green Close resident and former Conservator David Masters said: “We’re very pleased the board has decided to take the same attitude as previous ones and seem determined to protect that land.

The board also agreed to review its policies on granting easements.