FEARS that a masterplan for thousands of new homes in Worcestershire could be killed off if late-breaking alternatives are considered have been dismissed as “scaremongering”.

A task group set up by Malvern Hills District Council has published a report suggesting major changes to the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) just weeks before councillors are due to vote on it.

The SWDP is a blueprint for where 23,000 homes should go across Worcester, Malvern Hills and Wychavon between now and 2030.

Fears have been voiced by Malvern Hills District Council leader David Hughes and councillors in Worcester and Wychavon that the delay caused by making changes now would leave the area exposed to a “free for all” for developers. If a development plan has not been submitted to the government by March, new national planning rules will take precedence, and house-building will be developer-led until councils come up with alternatives.

Worcester City councillor Marc Bayliss said it would then be “developers calling the shots” while Coun Hughes said councils would be put in “an almost impossible position”.

But Coun Clive Smith, one of the Malvern Hills members who supported a motion calling for a special meeting to consider the task group’s report, said councillors should stick to their guns and not feel pressured into rushing something through if they felt there could be a better alternative.

“This is the third local plan that I’ve been involved with and I think we have got to keep our nerve. If an element of delay allows us to come up with a plan that is better for the area and its future then I think it would be worth doing,” he said. “I do think there is an element of scaremongering coming from other areas.”

The task group review suggests scrapping 700 homes at Newland, near Malvern, and instead spreading growth around smaller sites.

Newland would receive just 250 properties, with 100 on the former allotments area at Lower Howsell Road, 250 on land east of Mayfield Road, 150 at Meadow Sweet Court and Campion Drive, south of Guarlford Road, and 15 on land at Eastward Road, in the Upper Howsell area.

The review supports an existing allocation of 250 homes at the QinetiQ site and calls for up to 100 homes at Blackmore Park, currently earmarked for employment land.

Big changes are also proposed for Worcester allocations. It suggests reducing a 2,450-home estate currently planned for Broomhall, off the A4440, and instead building 500 homes at Redhill, Worcester, with 800 at Norton and Littleworth.