DEVELOPERS looking to build a 'rival' Worcestershire Parkway say they will submit a planning application in January.

Norton Parkway Developments, which has been embroiled in a bitter dispute with Worcestershire County Council, has revealed how its own proposals are very nearly complete.

A dossier of information will now be handed to planning officials early in the new year, which leaves County Hall in a potentially awkward position with its own scheme.

A public inquiry due to take place earlier this year was abandoned after the council struck a deal with a private Norton landowner to take control of the land needed for the development, and press ahead.

But the land-grab row means the council's own Worcestershire Parkway scheme has been delayed around 10 months and will not be complete until March 2018, instead of this May.

The cost of the council's scheme was originally put at around £22 million and that has now risen, although the difference is being kept confidential for now.

It will be part-funded by a £7.5 million Government grant, as well as a planned loan, which will be paid off via car parking fees.

Norton Parkway Developments, which still owns a significant chunk of land next to the council's 14-acre section of the site, says it is just weeks away from handing its planning application in.

Under its alternative vision, it would use the same railway platforms due to be constructed under the council's scheme but the other facilities like an office and station ticket office would be situated on the firm's own private land.

A spokesman for the company said: "We will submit our planning application early in the new year for our own Worcestershire Parkway development.

"We can deliver our own scheme at no cost to the Worcestershire taxpayer."

The planning application will go to Wychavon District Council and County Hall for consideration.

Worcestershire Parkway is one of the county council's flagship regeneration projects.

The development will include a single platform on the Cotswold Line and two platforms on the Birmingham-Bristol Line as well as a building with toilets, a booking office and some retail alongside a 500-space car park.

Cllr Ken Pollock, cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: "Worcestershire Parkway is an important infrastructure development which will improve rail connectivity from, to and through the county.  

"In turn, this will boost the local economy by attracting inward investment and creating new jobs.

"Planning permission was granted for the station in August 2015 - progress continues on the scheme to enable work to start on site in 2017, with the station expected to be operational in 2018."