ALFRICK residents burst into a round of applause when councillors voted to refuse a controversial planning application in their village.

The application to build 21 houses at Clay Green Farm, Folly Road, had been made by a company called Greenlight Developments, but the site is owned by Cllr David Hughes, the leader of Malvern Hills District Council.

About 70 residents crowded into the Council Chamber off Avenue Road, Malvern, last night for the meeting of the council's planning committee.

Concerns had previously been raised by the plan's opponents about whether councillors could be impartial, as the application was on Cllr Huges's land, and from the start, the meeting was tense.

It was not long before committee chairman Cllr Melanie Baker has to call for silence as council officers explaining the application were heckled from the floor.

Louise Randall of the parish council and Ian Smith, representing the local residents' group, reiterated the strong opposition to the plans, which included the dangers posed by increased traffic at key junctions leading to the site, and the impact of the development on the village.

Mr Smith said: "This application is wrong on every level. There is only one way of showing you are genuinely impartial and that is to reject this application."

And Cllr Anthony Warburton, the local member along with Cllr Hughes, who was not present, said: "I urge you to believe, that we have sufficient evidence , in both quantity and quality, to justify approving this application."

Cllr John Raine moved refusal of the application, citing concerns about bats detected on the site, loss of trees on the boundary, the impact of the new houses on the existing listed farm buildings, the access dangers and the impact on the countryside.

The proposal was seconded by Cllr Tom Wells, who described the application as having "all the features of a soulless modern estate in is village that goes back to medieval England".

After lengthy discussions, members voted to in favour of refusing the application six votes to three, with one abstention, to the delight of the residents.