ABOUT 50 concerned residents packed into Malvern Wells Village Hall to voice their opposition to plans for 95 new homes in open countryside.

They labelled a planning application to build 95 houses in countryside in Upper Welland as “wholly inappropriate” during the Malvern Wells parish council planning committee meeting on Wednesday evening (November 12).

The plans, for land south of Upper Welland Road, have been submitted by Kler Group.

Although the site bordersMalvern Wells it actually lies within the Little Malvern and Welland parish, with councillors there set to discuss the scheme next week.

Several locals voiced their concerns at the meeting, while councillors unanimously voted to submit a “strong objection” to the housing project.

David Whitehorn, an ecologist from Upper Welland, called the application “severely flawed” and district councillor Jill Campbell even promised to “chain myself to anything immoveable to stop this development”.

Andy Pitt, chairman of Upper Welland Action Group, which represents 150 households in the village, spoke in opposition to development, which would be located off Watery Lane to the south of Upper Welland Road.

He said: “It is wholly inappropriate to build a modern, dense suburban development adjacent to a low-density, rural village with near zero facilities.

“The proposed building site is prominent on the foothills of the Malvern Hills in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and will result in the irreversible loss of picturesque views.

“There are no exceptional circumstances presented that justify the destruction of productive agricultural pastoral land in this unique rural landscape.”

He called the application a “one-off speculative bid” that would be a “blot on the landscape” and expressed fears it would cause congestion, put public services under strain and potentially damage the habitats of wild bats.

Cllr Peter Buchanan, chairman of Malvern Wells Parish Council’s planning committee, said: “We wish to register a strong objection to this outline application which borders, but is not actually within our parish.

“In principle we are fundamentally opposed to a development of this size at Upper Welland and believe this land should remain green within the AONB, preserving the character of Upper Welland and the important views from the hills, which bring tourism into the town.”

The chairman also pointed out factual errors in the planning application such as a reference to views of the South Downs National Park, which drew laughter from the room.

He added: “This blatantly cut and pasted argument must surely cast doubt on the accuracy and credibility of the whole submission.”

Kler Group had not commented by the time of going to press yesterday.

Little Malvern and Welland Parish Council will discuss the application at its meeting on Monday (November 17) at 7.30pm in Welland Village Hall. Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting.