MALVERN Hills will have to find room for hundreds more new homes if the latest local development proposals, published this week, are approved.

The new version of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) has been created in response to a government decree that the area, which includes Worcester City and Wychavon as well as Malvern Hills, must find room for 28,370 houses, not the 23,200 originally proposed.

Malvern's share of the new total is 8,590, Worcester's is 9,830 and Wychavon's 9,950.

Newland, on the edge of Malvern, will have to take 800 instead of 700 homes, and the QinetiQ site 300 instead of 250.

Six new sites have been recommended, including the car park at Victoria Road, near the town centre, and greenfield sites at Broadlands Drive, Brook Farm Drive, and the former allotments at Lower Howsell Road.

Two more of the six, Pickersleigh Grove and Mill Lane, already have planning permission for 44 and 62 homes respectively.

A development at Temple Laugharne on the edge of Worcester has been nominated for 2,150 homes as part of the Wider Worcester allocation, instead of the original figure of 975, which is likely to affect the road network linking Malvern and Worcester.

The proposals will now be considered by all three councils, which will be discussing it at meetings, all being held on

Tuesday, September 30.

MHDC's meeting is at the Bank House, Bransford, at 6.30pm. If all three accept it, the plan will go out for public consultation for six weeks, starting on Monday, October 6.

Heather Jeavons, chair of Newland Parish Council, said: "On the one hand we can count ourselves lucky that only an extra 100 homes have been allocated to Newland.

"But together with the 81 houses at Lower Howsell Road, it will put increasing strain on the road network, especially as they will all be coming out on to the big roundabout at Newland.

"All this traffic will be funnelled towards Worcester, to what is an even bigger bottleneck, the Southern Link Road, and the Carrington Bridge.

"With more than 2,000 new houses proposed at Temple Laughern and no prospect of a northern link road until at least 2030, the traffic situation will rapidly become intolerable."

Cllr Tom Wells, who leads the Lib Dem group on MHDC and represents the Powick ward, said: "It is impossible not to express my anger at the appalling ineptitude of those politicians in charge of the district council.

"Their inability to deal with this sooner has left us all at the mercy of speculative large-scale housing applications on unsuitable land. As a consequence environmental vandalism has already begun on acres of high-quality local farmland in places such as Powick."

Cllr Julian Roskams, leader of the Democratic group, said an alternative approach with smaller developments dispersed more widely, would have been preferable.

He said: “Not only would this have ensured our many villages and smaller towns would remain sustainable in the years to come, it would have put far less pressure on our already struggling and under-resourced infrastructure. Nothing in the revised plan has caused me to change my view that we have taken the wrong approach.”

Cllr Melanie Baker, planning portfolio holder, said "We have to find a balance between building much-needed homes and protecting our communities, the plan will put the three councils and councillors back in the driving seat and the consultation will allow residents to have their say on how the recommended housing uplift is addressed.

"It’s essential that we positively move forward with the plan so councillors will have the power to start closing the door on inappropriate development.”

Cllr Judy Pearce, chair of the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: “South Worcestershire has risen to the Inspector’s challenge well and many suggestions came forward which gave plenty of options.

"Some of these proposed sites will now come forward to be looked at by the three councils. If agreed, these sites will be subject to public consultation and any representations received will be forwarded to the inspector.

"However, the Inspector will not be re-opening the consultation on sites previously proposed for allocation unless there has been a change, such as to the boundary or proposed number of houses on the site.”