AFTER an extensive appeal process, outline planning permission has been granted to developers wanting to build two huge housing developments on land at Yew Tree Hill to the south of Droitwich.

Community leaders and local residents have condemned the decision which will see plans put forward by Barberry Droitwich Ltd for 500 homes and a care facility and from Persimmon Homes Ltd for 265 homes going ahead on land north of Pulley Lane and Newland Lane.

Paul Middlebrough, leader of Wychavon District Council, said: “We are extremely dismayed with the Secretary of State’s decisions in respect of these planning applications and it does appear he has very little regard to the voices of our local communities in the planning system. Large scale developments are being imposed on our towns and villages in the district and this is taking place in many locations where the council would not normally approve development, especially where there are strong environmental or technical reasons against such development.

“The council, councillors, the town and parish councils and local residents all put forward arguments against these very large developments, which are in locations outside the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP). We are going through the extensive detail of the decision notices and looking at the implications.

“Importantly, since the inquiries took place, the Inspector who is determining the SWDP has set out the housing requirement very clearly and the council has worked hard to provide a five-year housing supply for the district. Over the last year over 850 housing units were approved by the council in sustainable locations in the district, but these applications are in inappropriate locations.

“These unwelcome decisions will not affect our resolve to refuse poor development.”

Sir Peter Luff, MP for Droitwich, condemned the decision. He added: “I was appalled to learn that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has allowed the appeal cases for massive housing developments at Yew Tree and at Long Marston to go ahead – effectively overturning Wychavon District Council’s original and correct decision to reject the applications.

“Both residents and the council have fought hard against these proposals and this will be a bitterly disappointing day for many. I condemn the opportunism of developers who have wickedly exploited the current position in Wychavon before the adoption of the South Worcestershire Development Plan.

“We need more houses locally, but they should be built where locally elected councillors decide after a process of local consultation, not at the whim of developers. Now Wychavon will be left to pick up a bill for many thousands of pounds of legal costs for daring to stand up for its people.

“The sickening drumbeat of a legalistic process has again drowned out the voice of democracy.”

Speaking on the 'Droitwich Unite Against Yew Tree Village' Facebook page, resident Michael Horton said: "Scumbags. Goodbye to Droitwich as we know it."

Alison Pittaway commented: "Last time we took overspill we immediately had an increase in vandalism. Those days are etched on the minds of people who lived here then and those two communities are still not reconciled. I for one will not set foot on Yew Tree Hill once it's despoiled."