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New 800-home 'super village' plan for west Worcester under attack
PLANS for a new 'super village' in west Worcester have come under attack from city planning experts - with fears it could damage St John's, threaten the existence of a primary school and cause congestion havoc.
Worcester City Council's planning chiefs have delivered a withering verdict on early proposals for a huge 800-home expansion next to Dines Green.
A key report says the project, by Hallam Land Management, still has a whole host of unanswered questions before it should be accepted.
The project, on 60 hectares of farmland north of the A44 Bromyard Road in Lower Broadheath, includes a school, health centre with a doctors' surgery, shopping units, office space, restaurants, takeaways and bars, sports pitches, a playground, and acres of open space.
An outline planning application, first revealed by your Worcester News last September, is now being debated by the city council before it goes to a vote by politicians in Malvern Hills, as it sits a few feet over the boundary.
During a city council planning committee debate, politicians agreed to back a report from officers spelling out serious concerns about it.
Residents also turned up at the meeting to say they will not "put up and shut up" about their fears.
Anthony Mansell, who lives in the new Earl's Park development next to the site, said: "We pay our rates to Worcester City Council, so we won't put up and shut up about what is being decided by people in Malvern.
"This council, I hope must take into consideration that we don't want to be overrun by this. The road outside our properties could become a rat run."
Councillors said they shared officers worries about how it could impact on St John's.
Cllr Derek Prodger said: "There are serious questions about infrastructure, we need to be so mindful it doesn't damage the sustainability of St John's as a retail area, and what it does to schools.
"The infrastructure must be capable of accommodating it."
Cllr Lynn Denham said: "I lot of careful thinking has gone into this report, and I commend it.
"This development is on the very edge of our city and the people who live there will be living in our city - they don't live their lives by council boundaries."
The report is being sent to planners in Malvern, who will be tasked with making a recommendation to their own committee within weeks.
If the outline application is approved, a final, detailed plan must then be drawn up which Worcester City Council will get a second look at.
The 'super village' proposal follows a failed 2010 bid by Bloor Homes to build 3,950 homes in the area, a plan which was withdrawn after a public backlash.
Since then the land has been earmarked for up to 975 properties in the draft South Worcestershire Development Plan.
Hallam Land Management did not respond to the report yesterday but insists it wants to build “an attractive and sustainable”village.
PANEL - WHAT THE REPORT SAYS
- The plan includes a new shopping centre, but no assessment has been made on what it could do to retailers in St John's, or the existing Dines Green neighbourhood centre
It goes against a council policy to protect "shopping choice" and is considered essential as the site includes too much retail.
- It also includes a new primary school, but Worcestershire County Council has told city planners there is no need and it could "threaten the viability" of Dines Green Primary, which has surplus places
- Hallam Land Management says it will aim for "up to 40 per cent" of the development to be affordable homes, when city council policy is for no less than 40 per cent, unless an independent assessment is made to justify a lower number
- The application mentions 26,000 sq ft of office space, but the city council says it does not want "significant office development" because it could damage Worcester city centre
- No reference is made about housing to meet the needs of older people, which the council considers vital
- The South Worcestershire Development Plan earmarks land on-site for 10 traveller pitches, in a bid to stop them going elsewhere, but the application has none
- There is no provision for allotments, civic space or a churchyard
-It needs to be clearer on infrastructure, including a 'parking hub' by the A4440 and offer money to improve the highways network, especially for emergency services
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