LAND near Worcester which was controversially bought by a council for £180,000 will be used for environmental purposes.

Malvern Hills District Council announced this week the 45 acres (18 hectares) of land it bought near Hallow in 2020 will be used to help it meet its environmental aims.

At the time the land was bought, questions were raised over why that particular area of land was chosen, the process through which it was bought and whether it was useful or not.

Now, two years later, the council has revealed it will be embarking on a project to restore the land to a species-rich flood meadow.

READ MORE: Council agrees controversial Hallow land purchase

This will feature scarce and important habitats including wet woodland and fen.

Working with a local group from the RSPB, the project will aim to improve overall biodiversity of the site and specific habitats which could provide a sanctuary for vulnerable meadow plants such as snakes-head fritillary and mammals including several bat species.

Alastair Pounder, the council’s recently appointed Biodiversity Project Officer, will focus on the regeneration of the site to create a species-rich meadow of grasses and wildflowers, improving the soil and floodplain meadow through careful livestock grazing and a hay cut in late summer.

He said: "The council’s investment in land at Hallow demonstrated foresight in a changing environment.

"It provides the opportunity to restore and conserve precious habitats for wildlife and people in the district while contributing to climate resilience through carbon capture, improving water quality and alleviating flooding."

READ MORE: Council faces 'serious questions' over Hallow land

At the time the land was bought, Conservative councillor Paul Cumming asked then-leader Cllr Sarah Rouse about the decision.

Cllr Cumming also asked the council to confirm when exactly the land was bought.

A council report prepared about the land said 45.47 acres of land was bought at £4,289 per acre. This made a total of £180,000 spent on the land.

According to the council, this was “well below the market value” and was “exceptional value for money.”

Options discussed at the committee meeting in 2020 included using it as part of a natural burial ground and a nature reserve, though the burial ground idea was dismissed as the land sits on a flood plain.