THE five year plan for Malvern's economy has been approved by councillors, with a number of key initiatives included.

Among a number of things listed in the plan, which is a revised version of the original, are a new Visitor Economy Action Plan to help the tourism sector, as well as lobbying for infrastructure improvements.

The council is developing a new communities strategy which will build on the strengths of communities highlighted by the pandemic to make them "stronger, sustainable, and resilient."

Tackling loneliness, supporting those in poverty and revamping the council’s youth plan to make sure it meets the needs of the district’s young people post Covid-19 are included as new actions as well.

Bringing new housing sites forward based on community need, including provision for key workers, and a renewed commitment to tackling rough sleeping have been added to existing actions.

Councillors have also pledged to lobby for several active travel schemes across the district to support a green recovery from the pandemic and the council’s carbon reduction aims.

The committee also approved a new five year business plan which sets out the financial challenges against which the council will deliver the actions in the Five Year Plan.

The council needs to save another £500,000 by 2026, on top of more than £6million already saved from the budget since 2010, with less than one per cent coming from reductions to frontline services.

Cllr Sarah Rouse, leader of Malvern Hills District Council, said: "Recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, when it is eventually over, will be the absolute priority for this council.

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"Our revised Five Year Plan reflects that and how we will work with partners to support our businesses, our communities and our residents to come back even stronger than before.

"Importantly, the plan also maintains our existing commitments on the environment and climate change."

Cllr Peter Whatley, Portfolio Holder for Resources on Malvern Hills District Council, said: "Our priorities are ambitious, but will deliver an even better quality of life for all our residents.

"Every item will, of course, be rigorously scrutinised for the value for money it represents and must be affordable within our agreed budget."

At its Executive Committee meeting on January 19, the council also agreed to a 25-year lease for Bloomspace, which provides hot desks, fixed desks, meeting rooms and private office space to businesses, along with high-speed Wi-Fi, free printing, tea and coffee.

The centre also provides meet-up events and access to investors with support services including mentoring.

Thirdly, a commemorative space to mark the Covid-19 pandemic is planned by the council.

The area, which is likely to be some kind of woodland, would involve planting hundreds of trees with a tribute to keyworkers and those who have lost their lives during the pandemic.

The idea is still in the early stages of development and the council is looking to work with landowners or is willing to buy land to create the space.

The space will also support biodiversity and offset carbon emissions.

It is hoped volunteers will be involved in creating the space.

Cllr Rouse added: “All of us have gained a greater appreciation for our environment during this pandemic, so it seems fitting to create a natural space to help us, and future generations, remember the lives lost to this virus and the incredible way our NHS, other key workers and communities responded to get us through this.”