CONTROVERSIAL plans to build up to 70 homes near Upton Marina have been given the go-ahead by a planning inspector in the face of local opposition.

The plan, submitted by Tingdene Marinas, calls for the houses to be built on land off the A4104 between the existing marina and the village of Holly Green.

Residents fear that the new development will increase the amount of traffic on the A4104, which is already busy.

The plan was thrown out by Malvern Hills District Council in October, with members of the Southern Area Development

Management Committee voting 16 to one, with one abstention, for refusal.

The councillors were following the recommendations of planning officers, who said the application should be refused due to the impact on highway safety, specifically the site's emergency access, located at the service road off the A4104, which was deemed as having a "substantial" adverse impact on road safety, particularly when flooding makes the main entrance unusable.

Residents commented that the A4104 is a "narrow twisting lane" which has seen a number of accidents, and which will become "even more dangerous" with more traffic.

Tingdene appealed the refusal, and following a public hearing last month, planning inspector David Wildsmith had allowed the application to go ahead.

In his report, Mr Wildsmith said: "I fully accept that at such times the service road and the area round it may well become very busy and congested. However, such events are infrequent and of relatively short duration."

As one of the conditions of approval, Mr Wildsmith says he applicant must install an automated bollard system to restrict use of the emergency access, that the district council must approve details of the system and that it must be in place before any of the houses are occupied, and for the lifetime of the development.

The applicant already has planning permission, approved on appeal in 2008, for 42 holiday lodges on the same site.