A PLEA to build homes on the border of Stourport and Malvern Hills district would increase the town's population by more than a quarter, it has been claimed.

Malvern Hills District Council has been urged to allow land on the border, by Astley Cross, to be given the go-ahead for houses and business.

Wyre Forest District Council has, however, objected to the suggestion, which a leading councillor said would boost the town's population by 26 per cent.

He said the 200-hectare land could accommodate up to 3,000 homes.

"We have got problems in Stourport as it is with the infrastructure," said councillor James Dudley, who represents environment and economic regeneration on the council's cabinet.

"We just can't cope with that number of people at the moment. It is also a very beautiful area on the Severn."

The conflict arose as Malvern Hills District Council was currently putting together its local plan, a document which sets out what should be allowed to be built and where in the district during the next six years.

The Malvern council agreed the land should be classed as open countryside and not built on but had been urged by independent planning consultants to class the land as mixed use, leading the way for homes.

The official objection from Wyre Forest District Council said: "There is no justification for an urban extension of Stourport into Malvern Hills district".

It added any "significant development in the Astley area" would contravene planning policies and went against its own local plan, which had set aside land for housing in Kidderminster and Stourport until at least 2011.

The objection, along with other views, will go to a local plan inquiry in May. The final local plan is expected next year.