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South and West Worcs (Malvern Hills, Worcester & Wychavon)

Combining Malvern Hills District, Worcester and Wychavon District into one report is necessary and desirable for two reasons.

First, it was the structure adopted by the regional South Worcestershire Joint Core Strategy (SWJCS). Secondly, Wychavon planning applications are currently being monitored by a trio of volunteers from outside the District. This has been made possible through the publication of weekly planning lists on the District Council web site. We would prefer this work to be carried out by volunteers in Wychavon, but Worcestershire is not the only Branch which has found it difficult to maintain the independent District structure in recent years. Nevertheless, it would require only two or three volunteers from Wychavon to enable David Hawkins to resume holding district meetings.

During the past year, we have sent comments or objections regarding 13 planning applications. Nine of these were withdrawn or refused, of which four were of major concern: nearly 4,000 homes in the parishes of Lower Broadheath and Rushwick, 49 houses at Martley, five wind turbines near Lenchwick, and a Tesco store at Tenbury Wells.

The one major application which was allowed was for the location of Bosch to the east of the M5 near junction 6. The Wychavon planning committee appeared to approve it (not unreasonably) in order to ensure that the company, which is one of Worcester’s main employers, remained close to the city, rather than through the merits of the proposal.

Hot on the heels of the High Court judgement in December that the revocation of the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) by Mr Pickles’s letter to District Councils had no legal status, several house-builders have filed applications to build on sites previously earmarked by the SWJCS for development. These include two applications south of Droitwich, one near Evesham, plus one to the North of Worcester (Bevere) and one to the south (St Peters). We have sent objections to the applications in SW Droitwich and Bevere. There have been rumours that the north of Kempsey Parish is still under threat of a major housing estate, although no formal application has yet been made.

Currently, the planners are scratching their heads over what to propose in place of the SWJCS. Their conclusionr will be divulged during the summer in the shape of the South Worcestershire Development Plan, and this should be placed before the public for consultation during September and October. We would hope to see the number of new homes reduced appreciably from the 25,500 approved by the lnspector, perhaps to around 20,000.

Much depends on whether or not Worcester is still anxious to retain its status as a grow point, which will determine the size of the over flow beyond it border. Hopefully, this will be much less than the 7,500 proposed by the SWJCS.

Frank Hill