A CONTROVERSIAL plan to enlarge a dental surgery in Malvern Link was given the go-ahead by district council planners in the face of opposition from local residents.

The Richmond Dental Practice in Richmond Road applied to build a new floor above the existing one-storey building, to house storage and staff facilities.

But people living nearby objected, saying that the proposed enlargement of the building was out of keeping with the Malvern Link Conservation Area, and that it would lead to increased traffic in already-congested residential roads.

At Wednesday's meeting of Malvern Hills District Council's southern area development management committee, resident Rodney Hatfield, speaking on behalf of fellow residents, said: "The building's overall height, bulk and height will dominate the area. The design and materials won't do."

He said that Farley and Richmond Roads are "badly affected by chronic illegal parking" and described traffic at the junction as "dangerous".

However, the county council highways department, which was consulted, raised no objection, saying there was a car park within walking distance and the application would not generate extra traffic.

Link councillors Clive Smith, who said he was a patient at the clinic, and Mike Soley proposed and seconded a resolution to reject the application, but when put to the vote it was lost 7-10.

Cllr Brian Pilcher proposed approval, seconded by Cllr Roger Cousins. Cllr Pilcher, who also declared he was a patient at the clinic, said: "We can't stand still architecturally. This modern building will provide an interesting contrast in the Conservation Area."

Cllr Cousins said: "The existing building is certainly not attractive, and this new proposal is certainly a modern building, but when we remember the reason that the building is there and what it's doing, that overrides the architecture.

"It's an NHS practice, we need NHS practices and we need then to be near where people live."

The vote to approve the plan was passed 10-7.