In each of its meetings the Planning Sub Committee (PSC) meetings reviews all live applications in the Malvern urban areas. Since our May meeting, 12 of the previously ‘live’ applications in the Malvern urban area have been approved by the Malvern Hills District Council, one has been refused and one withdrawn. All, except that withdrawn, were decided by planning officers under their delegated powers. There were 28 ‘brought forward’ applications and 15 new ones, all of which we reviewed in varying degrees of detail. We discussed the following three planning issues in the greatest detail.
Former International Gospel Centre, Ranelagh Road
This long-standing application describes the conversion of Sanctuary House, Manna House and Harvest House into twenty apartments. The applicant apparently now is seeking an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate for ‘non- determination of the application. Although a decision here is taking a long time, we realise that there are other planning applications within the boundary of the Centre that need to be satisfied in close conjunction with this one. We are following all of them closely.
Former Community Hospital, Lansdowne Crescent
At very short notice, we had learned that this planning application was to be determined on the same evening as our PSC meeting. Our opinion was that this timing unduly deprived us and very many interested persons of the opportunity of attending the MHDC Southern Area planning meeting. We had notified MHDC of our consequent displeasure. PSC on behalf of MSC have always strongly objected to any application that would result in the demolition of the iconic historic building. Given the Planning Officer’s astonishing recommendation to demolish the hospital, much of our discussion was on the theme ‘what shall we do next?” Perhaps unsurprisingly, given wide public support for retention of the building, councillors refused the officers recommendation. There can be very little doubt though that this will not be the end of the Hospital saga. The former hospital is on a valuable site and the NHS surely wants to capitalise its asset by development and sale, arguing that that would be in the greatest public interest. Given the refusal there are now several possible ways forward, these might include a reconsideration of the refused application by the full Malvern Hills District Council, or an appeal against the decision to the Planning Inspectorate by the applicant, or a completely new planning application that would be more likely to meet with public approval.
Grade II listing of the Council Chamber
Malvern Civic Society recently learned that this MHDC building, otherwise known as ‘Priory Lodge’, had been listed by English Heritage as Grade II under the Planning Act 1990. The Chamber was cited as having “special architectural or historic interest”. The existing building is said to have a strong historical connection with the adjacent Council House and was built originally as school gymnasium.
We understand that the listing may delay delivery of plans by the Council to construct a modern built-to-purpose Council Chamber and associated facilities on the site – including a new tourist information centre.
Graham Myatt June 2017