A NEW budget three-storey hotel could soon grace Malvern's skyline after plans were given the green light at a meeting.

The 66 bedroom Premier Inn at at the Enigma Business Park, Townsend Way, Malvern was approved at a planning meeting in the town on Wednesday. The plans by Premier Inn, working with Henry Boot Development Ltd, has caused some anxiety about extra competition with existing hotels. However, many hotel managers have already welcomed the addition, saying the budget hotel will appeal to a different market. Bedrooms at the Premier Inn would be based on all three floors with a breakfast and kitchen area on the ground floor.

Travelodge also remains committed to to a 60 room town centre hotel off Edith Walk, as reported in your Malvern Gazette last year.

The South Worcestershire Hotel Study five years ago established there was a need for a 40 to 80 room branded budget hotel in the town. However, Malvern Civic Society considered this development to be too close to the trees and water course.

Planning officer Anthony Young described the building as "modern" and "fresh" in appearance which he said officers felt was appropriate within the commercial setting.

Cllr Paul Tuthill said matters of competition were not matters for planners. He said: "Worcestershire wants to be open for business and this is the sort of facility it wants. I fully support this and suggest we should vote for it s approval as set out here."

Cllr Clive Smith said: "It will be good for the town. A lot of the hotel owners in the town quite welcome this." Controversy centred on the eastern elevation of the building with Cllr Roger Hall-Jones suggesting it could be covered by a virginia creeper while Cllr Brian Pilcher suggested a sedum roof although the planning officer said this has been deemed an unnecessary expense given the surrounding buildings. Other suggestions included creating a "living wall" or "green wall" to soften the effect of the building. Cllr Smith even suggested having a mural of a Morgan car on that end of the building.

Area planning officer Liz Ellis said living walls were "extremely expensive" and difficult to maintain and keep going, having dealt with similar applications in the past. Access is controlled by Malvern Hotel and Spa so a temporary access from Britannia Way will be created during the hotel's construction.