Relief as ward left off homes plan – for now

November 01 2019
Relief as ward left off homes plan – for now

Battenhall councillors have expressed their relief at the ward not being earmarked for additional housing in the latest consultation document for the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP).

The Green Party’s Leader on Worcester City Council, Louis Stephen, who represents Battenhall, has warned, however, that residents need to remain on their guard against any future prospect of development there.

The SWDP has been prepared jointly by Worcester City Council, Wychavon District Council and Malvern Hills District Council.

Together those authorities have come up with their preferred options to meet future housing and employment needs of their collective area of south Worcestershire.

After Battenhall had been targeted for housing development five years ago, sparking a campaign of opposition from local residents, the developers eventually backed down in the face of a potential legal challenge on that occasion.

The latest local plan – the SWDP – had prompted renewed fears among Battenhall residents that the ward could again be earmarked for new housing.

Cllr Stephen described as “excellent news” that: “Neither of the two sites we were concerned with, Middle Battenhall Farm or the playing fields off Evendine Close, are being put forward.”

He said people could not be complacent, explaining: “The proposed draft plans first need to be approved by all three local authorities, Worcester, Malvern and Wychavon – this is not guaranteed.*

“Then the proposed SWDP will go through a consultation process where developers will maintain pressure to include their sites, possibly under the cover of minor tweaks to their proposals

“It is possible that other sites in the county become undeliverable and there may then be pressure to reconsider other sites previously discounted.

“Finally the SWDP will then need to be approved by the Planning Inspector. The Planning Inspector, taking into account developers’ input given in the consultation phase may potentially take a different view to our council officers.

“So, good news so far but we need to be on guard and keep up the pressure.”

Steve Mackay, who represents Battenhall as a Conservative councillor for the St Peter Division on Worcestershire County Council, said: “This area of land was first proposed for housing development a few years ago.

“At that time a survey was undertaken to discover people’s thoughts on the matter.  There was an overwhelming response from many across the city saying how it should be preserved as part of the city’s ‘green lung’.

“Although planning officers recommended the application should be approved, after the planning committee listened to reasons given by myself and members of the Middle Battenhall Farm Action Group as to why that was a wrong decision, they rejected the application.

“The developers chose to appeal that decision but subsequently withdrew their application.

“It was hoped that would be the end of the matter. However, we have seen it come forward yet again but, on this occasion, it has not been accepted within the South Worcestershire Development Plan.”

* Worcester City Council, Wychavon District Council and Malvern Hills District Council were due to discuss the proposals as St Peter’s Voice went to press.

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5,000 new homes town planned for Norton

A new town of 5,000 homes at Norton’s Worcestershire Parkway, with the potential of another 5,000 on top of that, is among the preferred options outlined in the latest South Worcestershire Development Plan Review (SWDPR).

The first 5,000 of those would be built to meet the demand for new housing by the year 2041 among the 14,000 needed across the south Worcestershire council areas of Wychavon, Worcester City and Malvern Hills.

Those 14,000 are in addition to 28,400 needed by 2030, as set out in the current plan. More than half of those have already been built.

Planners drew up their preferred list after assessing more than 900 sites suggested for potential development, subject to technical criteria.

Other proposals include expansion of Rushwick, with 1,000 new homes from 2030 once a new railway station has been secured, as well as a new town at Throckmorton Airfield providing 2,000 new homes from 2030 with the potential for further expansion in the future.

There are plans for 810 new homes on various sites around Worcester, 600 in Pershore, 200 in Evesham, 880 in Malvern, 730 at Droitwich Spa and 60 in Tenbury Wells.

More than 900 new homes are earmarked for villages across Wychavon and 390 within Malvern Hills District.

The document also contains plans to provide another 273 hectares of employment land to allow for the growth of businesses and to create jobs.

The vast majority, 140 hectares, has been allocated within Wychavon, with 55 hectares planned for Malvern Hills District. The proposals were being discussed by each of the three district councils involved as St Peter’s Voice went to press.

All three needed to agree to the proposals before they went out to public consultation, beginning on Monday, November 4 and running until 5pm on Monday, December 16.