CHANGES to the planning system could see the county's countryside ruined by allowing thousands of new homes to be built in a developer 'free for all', a councillor has warned.

As part of sweeping changes to the planning system revealed by the Government earlier this month, councils may have to use a new method for calculating the number of new homes it will need to build in the future.

The latest review of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) – the major planning blueprint which will set out where homes will be built in the next 20 years – whilst facing a significant delay has set out a need for around 14,000 more homes up to 2041.

If the three district planning councils in south Worcestershire agreed to adopt the new method for calculating housing need, the number of new homes needed to be built could rocket to a massive 43,000 – a rise of more than 200 per cent.

A huge number of these homes would be built across Wychavon and Malvern Hills.

Calculations show the number of new homes needed to be built ever year in Malvern under the new formula would be 917 – up by 125 per cent.

The same method shows the number of new homes needed across Wychavon would shoot up to 1,375 – a massive 175 per cent increase – and would require more homes to be built in Wychavon every year than the whole of the south of the county under the old formula.

Malvern Hills district councillor Paul Bennett was very concerned by the huge numbers of homes that would be built in some of the county’s rural areas.

“It appears that in Malvern Hills and Wychavon our wonderful countryside, beautiful towns and villages are expected to take double the ridiculous number of so-called ‘executive homes’ we face already,” he said.

“This is despite vast numbers of these drab, featureless mass-produced boxes blighting our communities already and thousands already with planning permission not being built.

“What is worse for us all is that this ‘free for all’ does not help at all with the real need here for houses to rent.

“It is clear, we are being forced to build London and the South East's housing need here and there is absolutely no justification for this happening.

“It is absolute madness and may destroy our tourism industry going forward as developers will concrete over anywhere that is attractive with impunity."

“I will fight this with every fibre of my being for future generations who will see such stupidity as a disaster for one of the most beautiful areas of this great country.

“Let's face it, we know that later this century the population of this country is going to decline dramatically by the government's own projections so there is no need for these new ‘could be anywhere’ estates of identikit box houses now and certainly not in the future.

“Indeed, if their value declines in decades to come the banks and country will go bankrupt as demand drops.”