ABOUT 50 people packed into a parish meeting to oppose controversial plans to build more than 40 homes on a former playing field in Malvern Wells.

The disused Abbey College sports pitches between Rothwell Road and Hanley Road are subject to an application from CALA Homes for 43 dwellings but faced substantial public opposition at the meeting of Malvern Wells Parish Council's planning committee.

Their concerns about the loss of rural land, the potential impact on the area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and increased traffic were echoed by the committee, who opposed the plan at the meeting on Wednesday.

The parish council feels feels the plans should be considered a major development in the AONB and does not show

while the encroachment into the rural area would be detrimental to the area.

Councillors are also concerned the application doesn't meet the requirements of either national or local policies.

A spokesman for CALA Homes said the proposed development was "sensitively designed in a traditional style" to suit the local area while helping to meet the "substantial independently assessed housing need" within the district.

He added they will "work closely" with the council to develop a strategy and ensure the ongoing maintenance of the public open space, with the formation of a dedicated management company to carry out the work.

They also remain confident the plans would "not materially impact on parking or traffic conditions" around the development.

Rothwell Road resident Greg Dobson raised concerns about the loss of views and the potential cost to landscape the field.

"If you put the houses on the far side we would be looking over the roof tops. The roof tops are the same height as all of ours, so instead of looking out we are going to be looking at the back of somebody else's house."

He added: "It does seem a ridiculous place to build houses."

Fellow Rothwell Road resident Peter Walter, who has been a vocal opponent of the development site, said "very firm and very comprehensive" recommendations for rejection from the Malvern Hills AONB and Malvern Hills District Council's landscape officer should be taken into account.

Committe chairman, cllr Peter Buchanan, was met with a round of applause when he said: "I think there is case law that would suggest we have a very good chance of insisting this is a major development."

Cllr Barry Knibb said the developers were "building in parking chaos and ugliness" by placing parking spaces one behind the other, adding it "looks pretty on the drawing but it does not work in reality."

The site is earmarked for 35 homes in the South Worcestershire Development Plan - the blueprint for where building should take place between now and 2030.

A previous application by developer Landseer Homes to build 45 homes on the site was met with considerable public opposition and was withdrawn last year.