CONTROVERSIAL plans to develop the grounds of a closed-down pub in West Malvern were passed by a narrow margin by district council planners.

Applicant Peter Styles had asked Malvern Hills District Council for permission to build two houses in the beer garden of the Lamb Inn, West Malvern Road.

Two earlier plans for developing the pub and its grounds were turned down by the district council in June this year.

Although the pub has not been open for business for several years, many local residents have strongly opposed any move that would prevent it from reopening.

They are supported by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the district council’s southern area development control committee, ward member Julian Roskams told fellow councillors about the strength of local opposition to the loss of the Lamb.

He said that when he was standing for election, he canvassed West Malvern door-todoor and found residents were in favour of retaining the Lamb by a ratio of 20-1.

Although planning officers were recommending approval, he said the plan should be refused because building in the pub’s garden would tend to make any attempt to revive the pub business unviable.

He was supported by fellow ward councillor John Raine, who said: “ A garden is essential to a pub of this sort to attract families, walkers, cyclists and the kind of clientele who would be needed to make the business a success.”

But the motion to turn the plan down was defeated seven votes to six. A motion for approval, proposed by coun Graham Myall and seconded by councillor Jill Campbell, was approved eight votes to five.