Malvern’s MP says the district council’s failure to meet housing targets is allowing developers to “ride roughshot” over the wishes of residents.

But the council says it is being punished for delivering ahead of schedule.

Harriett Baldwin is calling on district councils to act swiftly to head off speculative planning applications and reduce the costs to the taxpayer of losing planning appeals.

Malvern Gazette: Harriett Baldwin says there will be more speculative applications from developersHarriett Baldwin says there will be more speculative applications from developers (Image: MP Harriett Baldwin)

District councils are required to have enough new housing to meet five years’ worth of demand but in successive years Malvern Hills District Council has failed to meet that requirement.

Following a developer's successful appeal for more housing in Hallow, the West Worcestershire MP wrote to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to ask about the relevance of the village’s Neighbourhood Plan in defending against unwanted planning applications.

She said local government minister Simon Hoare confirmed that the district council’s failure to meet its five-year land supply targets was allowing developers to by-pass the village’s own plan.

Mrs Baldwin said: “I have been flagging my concerns about the five-year land supply to locally elected councillors as it is their direct duty to manage this issue.

“Across the south of Worcestershire, we are seeing developers riding roughshod over the wishes of local people - some of who have gone to great time and expense to develop their own Neighbourhood Plans.

“Without a proper five-year land supply, we will see many more speculative housing proposals coming out of the woodwork.

“I dread to think how much these lost appeals are costing the local taxpayer and I can't believe how long it is taking to agree the local plan.

Malvern Gazette: Leader Tom Wells says the council is being punished for delivering ahead of scheduleLeader Tom Wells says the council is being punished for delivering ahead of schedule

“The long-drawn out review of the South Worcestershire Plan won’t conclude until the end of next year and while this is still under inspection, the larger villages around West Worcestershire are a sitting duck for unwanted housing development.”

Cllr Tom Wells, leader of Malvern Hills District Council, said: “Malvern Hills District Council has responded positively to the Government’s agenda to boost the supply of homes to meet housing requirements and needs.

“In the past eight years the council has consistently delivered ahead of schedule, which means that land allocated in the South Worcestershire Development Plan has already been built on.

“Unfortunately, current Government guidance does not allow these past rates of delivery to be taken into account when calculating five year supply, penalising councils that have delivered ahead of schedule.

“The Government has acknowledged that this is unfair and that this has encouraged speculative development which is not in line with local policies.”

He said a change to national planning policy has been agreed that will see past delivery to be taken into account.

“I urge the Government to bring forward the promised reforms of national planning policy to help local planning authorities resist unwanted, speculative development and support a plan led approach to development to meet the needs of local communities,” said Cllr Wells.