MALVERN planners have voted in favour of not ring fencing the number of affordable housing in a major application for new homes in Malvern.

In a close vote it went through six to five, despite councillors hearing it could put the entire scheme at risk of being built.

Gleeson Developments, behind the plans for the site, bounded by Lower Howsell Road, the railway line and Worcester Road, said they wanted to ring-fence the number of affordable houses at the Newland site to 20 per cent, having previously secured this for 400 of the homes when the application was originally approved in 2019.

But this was lower than the recommended 40 per cent set out in the South Worcestershire Development Plan, so at the time a "viability review mechanism" (VRM) was put in place with the option for this to be increased to the full 40 per cent on the other 400 homes at a later date.

On Wednesday, at the latest meeting of Southern Area Planning (SAPC), councillors heard the developers wanted to remove this mechanism.

Paul Hill, speaking on behalf of the applicants, said fixing the level was critical delivering the project.

He added :"We trust members will agree this will be a development that the town can rightly be proud of in years to come."

Newland Parish Council chairman Heather Jeavons added: "It's groundhog day.

"January 2019, when you as a council agreed that the correct and proper thing for making this development the best thing it could be, would be to introduce the review mechanism.

"If you remove the mechanism, you are condemning families the chance of an affordable house."

During the councillors debate Councillor Kaleem Aksar said: "This is a major site, we have to get it right.

"We have a major waiting list for affordable housing. Anything we can do to increase our provision for affordable homes needs to take precedence.

"Permission was granted at 20 per cent, but (through the mechanism) we had the option to claw back more."

Councillor Neville Mills said: "If we retain this condition at least we have some kind of a guarantee that there will be a minimum number of affordable houses for the population of Malvern."

Officers said the issue had the potential to delay the building of the homes, and councillors were told it was "highly unlikely" 40 per cent of affordable house would be achieved through the mechanism.

But councillors voted not to accept the officers recommendation to remove the viability mechanism.