CONTROVERSIAL plans to build holiday lodges in woodland outside Malvern could be decided before the end of the year.

The plan, submitted by the Three Counties Agricultural Society, is to build 50 lodges and a reception building in Langdale Wood, across Blackmore Park Road from the showground.

The society says the lodges are needed to counter a shortage of accommodation in the Malvern area.

But the proposal has been opposed by people who walk in the woods, which are designated as a Local Wildlife Site.

And Hanley Castle Parish Council says approving the plan would remove a valuable amenity from the parish.

"There are no comparable woodland areas left close to the parish, and this development would completely destroy this beautiful woodland," says the council's response to the application.

The Worcestershire branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, said: "There is no doubt that 50 chalets will cause considerable damage to the trees, tree roots and vegetation, plus great disturbance to many birds, butterflies and other insects.

"Although it is plausible that events at the showground bring an economic benefit to the Malvern area, there is little prospect that the new development will generate any significant additional benefit, whereas the potential damage to Langdale Wood is certain."

The highways authority says that the proposed access off Blackmore Park Road is too small for refuse collection vehicles to get in and needs to be enlarged.

And the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty says that light from the development will have "effects on visual amenity in views from the AONB".

Duncan Rudge, the district council's planning services manager, said: “This is a complex application that has required a lot of detailed work to ensure the potential impacts of the proposed development are fully considered.

"We are working with the Three Counties Showground and their representatives and good progress is being made.

"We are aiming to present the application to the council’s southern area planning committee for a decision before the end of the year.”