A GOVERNMENT minister has scuppered plans to move the town’s Tourist Information Centre (TIC) into a new £950,000 building.

Many locals opposed the district council’s bid to relocate the TIC from Church Street, Malvern, to the proposed development in Avenue Road.

The project was put on hold after Historic England designated a building on the site as a Grade II listed property, which prevented the council from demolishing it.

It can now be revealed that Malvern Hills District Council's appeal against the listing was rejected by the former heritage minister, John Glen, in November.

David Chambers, leader of the council, said: “I’m disappointed. We will have to move on. We will continue to look at the TIC.

“There were – and are – conversations about the town council taking over and possibly owning and running the TIC. There’s been no formal decisions yet.

“Priory Lodge – to be truthful – is in a poor state of repair, at some point in the not too distant future it’s going to cost the council a considerable amount of money to maintain.

“By far the better solution here was to demolish the building and put a new structure up.

“We are looking at a Plan B which will be a structure that can be built between the Council House and Priory Lodge.

“We haven’t got cost figures yet, obviously it’s going to be considerably less than demolishing Priory Lodge and a new build. I expect that will help us to fund other initiatives across the district.”

Mr Chambers added that the proposed reception area would be a contact point for locals who do not use the internet.

Roger Sutton, chairman of High Street Malvern, welcomed the failure of the bid to overturn the listing and the collapse of the council's plans to construct a new building.

He said: "We didn't see the need for it. It was just a waste of money.

"We had nothing to do with the listing but it served its purpose. I'm happy that this has been upheld."

Clive Hooper, chairman of Malvern Civic Society, said: "The civic society recognises that Priory Lodge has a place in the history and development of Malvern.

“We are not surprised, therefore, that Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Historic England has reaffirmed its Grade II listing for Priory Lodge.

“Although refurbishment of Council House has now been finished, the listing of the lodge will mean that the district council will not now be able to proceed with its phase II plans to demolish it and build a large extension to Council House.”

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "Having carefully considered advice and representations, it has been decided to uphold the original decision to list Priory Lodge at Grade II.”

Priory Lodge was built in 1919 as a gymnasium for the old school in Council House and became a council chamber in 1974.

Historic England said the building was a good example of an early 20th century school gym and listed the building in January last year.