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Battle lines drawn over where up to 4,100 new homes could go
BATTLE lines are already being drawn across Worcestershire - as people are asked to suggest land where up to 4,100 extra homes could go.
Three district councils have issued a plea for residents to come up with ideas on where extra development could be located.
Critics say the move is like "asking turkeys to vote for Christmas" and are concerned it could lead to fresh disputes.
The move comes after pressure from a Government inspector to drastically increase the number of properties in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP).
And last month the Government issued new guidance which included the need to consult on changes to local plans.
The blueprint already earmarks land for 23,200 properties by 2030, but it could rise to 27,300.
Inspector Roger Clews has already said the current figure is too low, cranking up the pressure.
In recent months people across Worcester, Malvern and Wychavon have fiercely opposed many of the old discarded sites for the SWDP.
In Worcester it includes Middle Battenhall Farm, where campaigners are fiercely opposed to Miller Homes' bid for 200 new properties there.
The land is currently not earmarked for any development whatsoever in the SWDP.
Colin Burgess, 47, of Battenhall Road, said: "People are fighting tooth and nail to save that site.
"I'll be making some suggestions, that's for sure. But it won't be around here, we've got enough."
Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "The most important thing is that people do have a say in this.
"We have to recognise there is a need for more housing, I see the need when people come to my surgery about it.
"It's a difficult balancing act and it's a positive thing people are being asked to get involved rather than be dictated upon from above."
South Worcester is also thought to be vulnerable, where London-based Welbeck Land has submitted a planning application for 2,200 new homes on fields off Crookbarrow Way, in St Peter's.
That land does sit within the SWDP, but acres of land in and around it are not.
Councillor Roger Knight, who represents St Peter's for the city council, said: "People should get involved, but it's a bit like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas - I don't think people will be asking for development in their own back yard.
"I don't know what the outcome will be, but I would encourage people to have a say."
People have only got less than a fortnight to get involved - up to 5pm on Wednesday, April 2.
If any of the suggestions are accepted by the three district councils, they will become subject to a fresh public consultation before it gets sent to the inspector.
The councils say they are looking for fresh sites, rather than old ones which have already been discarded.
Details of how to suggest a site can be found at www.swdevelopmentplan.org
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