MALVERN Hills councillors are being given an "outrageously short" time to debate new figures for housing in the district, says Lib Dem leader Tom Wells.

Council members learned yesterday that in the latest version of the South Worcestershire Development Plan, Malvern Hills is expected to find room for 8,590 new homes - up by just over 1,000, according to Cllr Wells.

MHDC, together with Wychavon and Worcester City, now has to provide a total of 28,370 new homes by the year 2030.

"The number of houses we have to provide has risen at every stage of the process," said Cllr Wells. "It was originally 22,000, then it went up to 27,000 after the first stage of the public inquiry, and now it's 28.370.

"It means more concrete, more tarmac and further loss of agricultural land.

"Apart from that, the councils, including Malvern Hills, are being given an outrageously short period of time to discuss it. We have to produce a list of preferred sites by the end of June and that's 12 weeks maximum - not really enough time for such an important issue."

David Hughes, leader of MHDC, said: "It's disappointing that the inspector has again asked us to increase housing numbers, but it's good that he hasn't asked us to withdraw the plan.

"We will try to accommodate the demand for increased numbers within the existing plan rather than go back to the preferred options stage and start again."

Cllr Judy Pearce, chair of the South Worcestershire Joint Advisory Panel, said: “We know many people will be unhappy at the level of housing the Inspector has proposed, but the only way we can secure a locally-controlled future for south Worcestershire is to ensure that the plan gets to the stage where it can be adopted as quickly as possible.

“Once adopted, the SWDP will give the three councils control over where new homes and businesses are built. Without it, we face a future where developers can try to build almost anywhere and our powers to resist their applications would be very limited.”

Planning inspector Roger Clews, came up with the figure taking into account the requirements of the new National Planning Policy Framework and the National Planning Practice Guidelines.

The three councils have already told the inspector that they will continue to follow the strategy of the SWDP, which is to concentrate development in and around existing communities, rather than create new towns and villages.