Housing masterplan back on track

By Tim Clarke Tuesday 11 December 2012 Updated: 13/12 14:26

THE LEADER of Worcester City Council has spoken of his relief after a blueprint for the future of housing in south Worcestershire was rescued from the brink of collapse.

The South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) looked in tatters last month when Malvern Hills District Council voted down the proposals which have taken five years to draw up.

But on Monday night (December 10) Malvern councillors backed a motion tabled by the Tory leadership calling on the council to reverse its decision and support the SWDP, which has been created in partnership with Worcester and Wychavon.

Nineteen councillors voted in favour of approving the SWDP, with 13 opposed and two abstentions.

The U-turn came on the same night Worcester City Council voted unanimously to back the masterplan which leaves only Wychavon to make up its mind next week.

Worcester's leader Coun Simon Geraghty said he was relieved Malvern had "pulled back from the brink" and supported the SWDP which provides a masterplan for the development of 23,000 new homes by 2030.

"In the run up to this meeting there were great concerns Malvern were going to vote down the SWDP but to their credit some members changed their mind and took a wider view," Coun Geraghty said.

"I pay tribute to them because I think they have put the future of south Worcestershire first.

"As I said to our own council we either shape the future of south Worcestershire or the developers will do it for us. It wasn't a false threat - it was a very serious one for communities in south Worcestershire. We all want this area to grow in a sustainable way and provide homes for people, create the right conditions for businesses to provide jobs as well as having better infrastructure. Without a plan we would not have had the ability to do that."

Malvern's councillors had previously voted to explore a series of significant changes to the SWDP which were tabled by a council policy group.

But before Monday's decisive vote council leader David Hughes had warned members that without the SWDP the district would lose control of its own planning ability and be left at the mercy of developers.

"It would be a potentially catastrophic step backwards for the whole district," he added.

The decision also removed the threat of a judicial review which Worcester City Council had warned it would pursue if Malvern did not back the SWDP.

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