4. Quality of Life




Malvern Hills District is an area of considerable scenic quality characterised by a rich pattern of towns and villages, set within countryside, much of which is outstanding landscape quality. The District also benefits from a marked diversity of architectural styles ranging from nineteenth century gothic revival buildings to vernacular timber framed buildings. The Local Plan has an important role to play in helping to maintain and improve this quality and diversity.


Conservation of the historic environment, including the protection of archaeological remains isgiven a high priority in the Local Plan which brings together objectives for economic growth whilst maintaining the character and quality of the District’s architectural and historic heritage. The Local Plan area contains around 1,800 listed buildings and 21 conservation areas with 6 registered historic parks and gardens and 51 Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Each of these features and their settings requires careful assessment when considering development proposals affecting their character or appearance, having regard to the wider context of landscape and townscape.


It is the design, appearance, landscaping, mixture and the arrangement of buildings, which together make an area unique. This ‘local distinctiveness’ in terms of size, design, siting, external materials and landscaping can contribute to the quality of life of an area and can also attract visitors to the area.


The Local Plan seeks to strike an appropriate balance between the conservation and enhancement of the built environment and the demand for new development It is the role of the Local Plan to take a comprehensive overview of the scope of the district's unique historic heritage and environmental qualities to secure protection and enhancement of important assets and to also enable necessary development.


The Malvern Hills District possesses a wide range of important habitats including woodlands, heathlands, rivers, streams, ponds and unimproved grasslands. These are the setting for a significant number of designated national and local important wildlife sites including 47 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 1 Local Nature Reserve and 191 Special Wildlife Sites.


The main purpose of the Local Plan policies set out below is to avoid the loss of or damage tothese important sites. Designated sites do not exist in isolation and form part of the area’s tapestry of sites of nature conservation interest which are essential for migration, dispersal and genetic exchange. It is important to consider not only the designated site itself but also the linkages between sites as part of the network of the area’s flora and fauna. The designations represent critical natural capital which should not be lost to development except in the most exceptional circumstances. The advice of English Nature will be sought in determining such circumstances. There is now increasing emphasis placed on the promotion of biodiversity, which extends to the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the environment.


It is important to ensure that development takes place in a manner that protects important resources and avoids the creation of conflict and hazards, which would affect the quality of life of residents and the effective operation of businesses.


Local Plan Strategy

The Local Plan objectives which apply to the policies contained within this section of the Plan form part of 24 Local Plan objectives, listed in paragraph 1.4.4:

  • Enhance biodiversity and protect from damaging development and land use activity, important environmental, landscape, townscape and historic features and characteristics.
  • Ensure the integration of development within the landscape in order to protect and enhance essential landscape characteristics and features.
  • Encourage the design of new development to be of a high quality which respects and enhances local character and distinctiveness.
  • Protect and expand amenity areas and open spaces, and access to them, in both town and country.
  • Minimise the pollution of air, water and land.

The Built Environment

Design of New Development

POLICY QL1 - The Design of New Buildings and Related Development

  1. The design of proposals for new development will be permitted if it:
    1. respects the key features, characteristics, landscape character and special qualities of the area;
    2. maintains or creates a positive sense of place and/or local character, particularly restoring or enhancing localities where strong local characteristics are lacking or havebeen eroded;
    3. does not adversely affect the distinct historic or architectural character of the area;
    4. does not adversely affect the urban form, in terms of significant street patterns, groups of buildings and open spaces; and
    5. does not adversely affect important landscape characteristics and prominent topographical features; and incorporates:
      1. scale, density, massing, height and materials compatible with the locality;
      2. designs and layouts which take account of public health, crime prevention and community safety;
      3. safe and convenient access for all potential users;
      4. use of appropriate building materials and techniques respecting local tradition;
      5. important aspects of detail and quality; and
      6. energy and water conservation features, where appropriate.
  2. Applications should be accompanied by a detailed Design Statement which sets out how design including crime prevention and community safety issues have been taken into account in formulating the proposal.

Reasoned Justification

PPG1 (General Policies and Principles) stated that “good design should be the aim of all those involved in the development process and should be encouraged everywhere”. PPG3 (Housing) states that “local planning authorities and developers should think imaginatively about designs and layouts which make more efficient use of land without compromising the quality of life or the environment”. In recent years design has become firmly established as a material consideration in the planning process.


Good design and layout of new development is important to achieving quality of life, a sense of place and a healthy and safe environment. Safeguarding the quality of the towns and villages within the District depends on good design appropriate to the location. Its achievement will depend upon identifying and understanding the local characteristics which are distinctive to an area such as housing design and layout. Good design should also help to ensure that the best use is made of land, including previously developed land.


There has been a strong tendency for new development, particularly on the larger housing sites to look very similar. This results from developers striving to impose their national profile at the expense of local character. Those elements which make places special and distinctive, from street pattern to individual buildings and the use of materials, are often ignored.


The main focus of design is the distinctive local qualities of the District. The Local Plan aims to ensure that all new development shares the characteristics that define the area in which it is located. Development proposals will be expected to reinforce local character and distinctiveness and in this respect it will also be important to have regard to appropriate Supplementary Planning Guidance or Documents published by the District Council. Where Village Design Statements have been formally adopted by the District Council as Supplementary Planning Documents they will be an important source of information on local character and distinctiveness. The District Council's position regarding the preparation of Parish Plans and Village Design Statements is set out in the Introduction to the Local Plan. 


Crime and the fear of crime can have a detrimental effect on the quality of people’s lives. A well planned environment can help fight crime and the fear of crime by using good design as a tool to help remove opportunities to commit criminal activities and making potential targets less attractive. Planning has a major role to play in crime prevention as it can be used proactively to create an environment that decreases the vulnerability of people and buildings. The District Council therefore aims to ensure that developments are appropriately designed and encompass suitable measures to help combat crime and the fear of crime.


The design and layout of schemes can encourage or deter crime. It is important that crime prevention is maximised in the planning of development. The adoption of good urban design principles concerning the layout and orientation of development can contribute significantly to a safer environment. Applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have incorporated appropriate measures as an integral part of the design process. There may be a requirement in appropriate cases for CCTV to be provided through planning obligations.


There is a range of advice and guidance on design in the built environment including spaces and streets, either published or endorsed by the Government. This includes Places, Streets and Movement (DETR 1998), By Design (DETR 2000), The Urban Design Compendium (English Partnerships 2000), Better Places to Live (DTLR 2001) and Buildings in Context (English Heritage and the Commission for the Built Environment 2002).

Protecting the character of Malvern

POLICY QL2 - Protection and Enhancement of Greenspace in and Adjacent to Malvern

  1. Areas identified as Malvern urban greenspace on the Proposals Map will be safeguarded. Development or other land use change will not be allowed unless it can be demonstrated that the proposal will not have an adverse affect on:-
    1. the characteristics and quality of the greenspace;
    2. important wildlife corridors or links between wildlife habitats;
    3. informal recreational value and opportunities for public access; and
    4. the overall integrity of the wider greenspace network.
  2. Any development which may be permitted utilising any part of an identified greenspace will need to demonstrate the benefits of the development to the remaining area and may need to include proposals for its enhancement and management.

Reasoned Justification

The District Council recognises the importance of protecting important areas of greenspace for the benefit of existing and future residents, and providing opportunities for informal and formal recreation, general amenity and nature conservation. Worcestershire County Structure Plan Policy CTC6 requires local authorities to identify and protect such green open spaces and corridors within and on the periphery of settlements. It considers that where possible such areas should be continuous and linked to the open countryside beyond in order that the ecological, recreational and landscape potential of these areas can be maximised.


Most greenspaces and open spaces can perform multiple functions and this is recognised within PPG17. This Policy focuses on the protection of greenspaces valued locally for their open nature and their contribution to the character and setting of the town. Particular consideration is given to the protection of greenspaces which provide physical links between sites of wildlife significance or contribute to the diversity of the landscape as well as providing open space accessible to the local population. The Policy complements Policy CN13 - Protection of Open Space and Sport and Recreational Facilities which seeks to protect land and buildings valued for recreational and related amenity purposes. Both Policies have an important role to play in contributing to the quality and character of the urban environment and to the quality of life for residents and visitors.


The Malvern Urban Greenspace Study, which identifies greenspaces important to the character of Malvern and its surroundings, was completed in May 2003 and provides the basis for this policy and is to be used to support its implementation. Greenspaces are defined as areas of land within and around urban areas, which are not built up, and that consist predominantly of unsealed permeable ‘soft’ surfaces such as soil, grass, shrubs and trees. They can include publicly and privately owned or managed land, with or without public access.


Greenspaces include both formally designated public open spaces – such as parks, play areas and other green spaces specifically intended and managed for recreational use, and other areas of greenspace with varying ‘green’ characteristics – such as greenspaces around housing and industrial sites, churchyards, private gardens and ‘green corridors’ comprising woodland, watercourses and road and railway verges.


The consideration of green space extends to include not just urban open spaces, but also the open countryside around the urban area which provides the landscape setting of the town. Greenspace in the urban fringe link the town with the wider countryside and create the first impression as people travel into or out of the town. The importance to the community does not depend on whether the area is in public or private ownership as the character of the district’s settlements is made up of both buildings and the open spaces between them.


Greenspaces are identified on the Proposals Map and will be safeguarded. They include sites which are outside the defined settlement boundary. The policy secures their overall protection and requires any development or land use change proposals to be considered in the light of their landscape/townscape, biodiversity and informal recreation characteristics, together with the overall contribution to Malvern, as identified in the Malvern Urban Greenspace Study. In addition, the findings of the Study in respect of the landscape setting of the town and the approaches to the town will also be taken into account in considering new development proposals.


Whilst the policy provides scope for new development and land use change to be permitted it is considered that any environmental benefit which may be accrued from the development e.g. maintenance and/or management proposals should be clearly identified and secured through the planning process.

POLICY QL3 - Shopfronts

  1. Shopfronts within Conservation Areas that are attractive, of historic or architectural value or that contribute to the character of the conservation area, should be retained and consent will only be granted for their repair or restoration. New shopfronts in Conservation Areas will only be permitted where they are appropriate to the character of the building and its surroundings and where the design is of high quality.
  2. Planning permission will only be granted for the alteration, replacement or installation of new shop fronts where:
    1. the design relates to the proportions, scale and architectural detailing of the building of which it is an integral part;
    2. the design respects vertical divisions between individual buildings, and where a business extends into more than one building, the building should not be linked by a single shop front under a common fascia;
    3. the design is sympathetic to the character, appearance and rhythm of the streetscene ofwhich it is a part;
    4. the design preserves or enhances the character and appearance of the conservation area;
    5. the design provides access arrangements for people with special access needs;
    6. the principle of conversion to residential use has been accepted and there is no overriding reason to retain the existing shop front;
    7. canopies are retractable and the materials, size, colour and shape respect the character and appearance of the building and street scene; and
    8. security shutters or grilles do not adversely affect the shop front, building or street scene and cover only window display areas and do not obscure the fascia, pilasters or stallriser.

Reasoned Justification

Shopfronts are important features within the street scene and greatly influence the quality of their environment. Change of occupation, new retailing methods, renovation and imposition of corporate styles all lead to pressures to change shopfronts, and it is important that historic shopfronts, particularly within Conservation Areas are retained or restored, and that new examples are of a sympathetic design. Large areas of glass, plastic or gloss finishes, garish colour schemes and fascias extending over more than one shopfront should be avoided, and new shopfronts should be designed to be sympathetic to a building’s characteristic features and surrounding shopfronts of character.


External grilles will not be encouraged on commercial premises within Conservation Areas and will not be permitted on listed buildings due to their detrimental impact on the character of the building. Similarly applications for external roller shutters will be resisted on listed buildings and within Conservation Areas, though the use of internal shutters will be encouraged.


Where grilles are necessary, these should only be of the roller grille type with spindle boxes recessed behind the fascia, or if not practicable, painted in a dark colour and covering the display area only and not the pilasters or fascia.


The District Council will prepare a Supplementary Planning Document on Shopfronts and Advertisements.

POLICY QL4 - Advertisement Signs

  1. Advertisement consent for advertisement signs will only be given where
    1. the proposal would not have an adverse effect on the amenity, character and visual appearance of an area; either individually or by cumulative effect; and
    2. the proposal would not distract or confuse highway users by virtue of obstruction, maintenance requirements or level of illumination.
  2. Internally illuminated fascia, projecting or hanging signs will not be permitted within Conservation Areas, and external illumination of signage will only be permitted where lighting is unobtrusive or not considered to be harmful to the character and appearance of the site or surroundings.

Reasoned Justification

Advertisements which are poorly located or are out of character with the conservation area can detract from its appearance, and it is important that the design, scale and materials of signage, whether fascia, projecting or hanging signs, should be sympathetic to the conservation area. Internal illumination will almost always be inappropriate for such signs, and encouragement will be given for traditional materials and detailing.


In all areas, particular attention will be given to the form, size and position of advertisements and signs to ensure that they respect the scale and proportions of the building and do not harm the character or appearance of the area.


A large area of the District, principally the area covered by the AONB and the AGLV is covered by an Area of Special Control of Advertisements, where restrictions apply. The area is shown in Appendix 11 and will be reviewed by the District Council in due course.

POLICY QL5 - Walls, Gates, Fences or Other Means of Enclosure

Planning permission for walls, gates fences or other means of enclosure will not be granted where:

  1. its erection, reinstatement, repair or replacement is inappropriate to the site and surroundings in terms of materials, location, height, form and detailing;
  2. its removal or alteration would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of a Conservation Area;
  3. it would cause harm to the setting of a listed building;
  4. it would harm the amenities of the occupiers of neighbouring properties by reason of its height and position; and
  5. it would prejudice highway safety.

Reasoned Justification

Walls, gates fences or other means of enclosure can have a dramatic impact upon the character and appearance of an area particularly within a Conservation Area or where they front a highway or form a boundary with other public space.


There are many instances where alterations may not require planning permission as they constitute permitted development under Schedule 2, Part 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.


Original stone and brick walls, gate piers, gates and railings are frequently important features of the built environment, contributing much to the special character and appearance of an area. For example, brick walls are a particular feature of the historic core of Upton-upon- Severn, and local stone walls and substantial gate piers are a key component of Malvern.


Alterations, either individually or cumulatively, such as the removal or reduction in height of gate piers, the reduction in height or re-alignment of walls to improve visibility, or the removal of sections of boundaries to accommodate cars, can have a significant impact on the character and appearance of Conservation Areas. Development proposals which involve alteration to boundary features in Conservation Areas will be carefully considered to ensure that the character or appearance of the area is preserved or enhanced.


If it is demonstrably necessary to demolish a boundary feature because it is unsafe, it should in the case of an original feature in a Conservation Area be re-instated using the existing materials and in accordance with appropriate detailing or seen as an opportunity to enhance the character and appearance of such areas by selection of a means of enclosure which reflects historic boundary treatments in the area. 


When considering whether to grant planning permission for new walls, gates, fences or othermeans of enclosure in Conservation Areas, the District Council will ensure, wherever possible that traditional details are incorporated into the boundary feature.


When considering whether to grant planning permission for means of residential enclosure in the rural areas and specifically the AONB, proposals must demonstrate they are informed by, and sympathetic to the landscape character in accordance with Policy QL24.


Conservation Area consent maybe required to demolish a wall, gate or fence over 1 metre high adjacent to a highway and two metres high elsewhere.


Regard should be paid, where appropriate, to flood risk considerations as set out in Policy DS16, in particular criterion 7.

POLICY QL6 - Telecommunications

Applications for planning permission for telecommunications development and for prior approval determinations should, in all appropriate cases:-

  1. demonstrate how the development fits into the wider network; and
  2. make use of existing buildings or telecommunications structures wherever possible unless it can be demonstrated that it is not technically practical or possible to do so, whilst having regard to the cumulative effect of mast or site sharing; and
  3. be sited, coloured and designed so as to minimise any visual impact on the street scene, the appearance or setting of a building (including the building on which it is installed) and on the environment generally, particularly Conservation Areas, the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Area of Great Landscape Value, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Scheduled Ancient Monuments and Registered Parks and Gardens. Regard will be paid to the potentially visually damaging effects of a conglomeration of telecommunications equipment installed on a single building or site; and
  4. include, wherever possible, practical and appropriate the provision of landscaping; and
  5. where appropriate include additional structural capacity to take into account the growing demands for network development; and
  6. ensure necessary protection of public health by demonstrating that the infrastructure meets ICNIRP guidelines for safe emissions; and
  7. provide an undertaking that all structures will be removed and the site restored to a standard deemed acceptable by the District Council in cases where the facility becomes inoperable.  

Reasoned Justification

Telecommunications contribute to the day to day life of local communities. It is a technology that is rapidly expanding and changing to meet a demand for communications both at home and in business. In common with other parts of the country, Malvern Hills District has seen a rapid expansion in proposals for new telecommunications equipment.


The Government's telecommunications policy as set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 8: Telecommunications is to facilitate the growth of new and existing telecommunications systems whilst keeping the environmental impact to a minimum. The Government also has a responsibility for public health. Policy QL6 is necessarily based on the Government’s policies on Telecommunications as set out in PPG8 and Worcestershire County Council's Policy D.44 of the Worcestershire County Structure Plan. However, the Council is aware that the recently published Report of the Parliamentary All Party Mobile Group (July 2004) recommends changes to PPG8. In particular it recommends that the government and mobile phone industry provide local authorities with greater technical advice as well as the revocation of permitted development rights for base stations. If the recommendations of this Report result in changes to PPG8, the Council will respond as quickly as possible by making appropriate changes to Policy QL6, through the Local Development Framework. 


The District Council recognises that some visual impact may be inevitable because of the functional requirements of telecommunications equipment and that locational requirements may restrict the choice of alternative sites. However, Malvern Hills District is an area of considerable scenic quality, characterised by the nationally designated Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Area of Great Landscape Value surrounding the Malvern and Abberley Hills which is of countywide mportance.


The District Council considers that landscape and townscape considerations are of paramount importance and that there is a need to ensure that the visual impact of telecommunications infrastructure is kept to a minimum. The responses to the Local Plan Key Issues Report indicated public support for the need to avoid visually and environmentally sensitive locations within the District. The above policy aims to achieve a balance between the provision of new facilities that aid the economy of the area and the need to protect the important environmental assets of the District.


Existing built structures, and telecommunications structures, are the preferred location for new masts since this minimises the need for new development. However the use of built structures should have regard to the nature of the building and its location as referred to in criterion (c) of the above policy and the need to avoid a proliferation of telecommunications equipment in a single location, if such a location is environmentally and visually sensitive.


In order to ameliorate and minimise visual impact bare skylines are best avoided in areas of open countryside, although woodland areas or large farm buildings can often provide a useful foil to such proposals. The use of such foil will be an important landscape/townscape consideration in the determination of applications in those locations. In some instances it may be appropriate to impose a condition requiring that planting or landscaping be carried out to help minimise any visual impact of the development. Areas of woodland and other landscape features used to screen installations, their ancillary compounds and access roads need to be in the control of the applicant to ensure the screening is retained in the longer term. Conditions to secure care, maintenance and replacement of the landscape framework over a period of ten years will be imposed upon permissions for installations in visually sensitive locations.


Proposals for the means of enclosure of telecommunications equipment should be consistent with the requirements of Policy QL5 – Walls, Gates, Fences or other means of Enclosure.


In considering proposals within the Malvern Hills AONB, the District Council would need to be satisfied that the applicant has been unable to identify a suitable alternative site outside the AONB. The objectives and strategy of the adopted AONB Management Plan will be taken into account as part of the decision making process. 


Public concern has been raised relating to the potential health risks of electromagnetic radiation associated with telecommunications equipment. The Report carried out by the Stewart Group, on behalf of the Government, entitled “Mobile Phones and Health” recommended that as a “precautionary approach”, emissions from mobile phone base stations should meet the ICNIRP guidelines for public exposure. The Council will determine planning applications based upon this “precautionary approach”. Applications that do not meet the requirements set down in these guidelines will be deemed to be harmful to health and will therefore be refused.


Many installations do not require planning permission by virtue of the terms of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. However, in certain situations the Council will have the opportunity to determine whether prior approval of a facility's siting and appearance will be required. On such occasions, regard will be had to the criteria listed in the policy. Where approval is required, the District Council will expect applicants to demonstrate, particularly within the Malvern Hills AONB, that alternative sites have been explored and have been deemed to be impracticable.


Conservation Area


The following section sets out policies that deal with a range of topics intended to preserve and enhance the heritage of Malvern Hills District.


Conservation Areas

Conservation Areas were introduced by the Civic Amenities Act of 1967 and were intended to enable local authorities to give special attention to the preservation or enhancement of these areas when formulating policies or deciding planning applications. Designation of these areas requires an understanding of why the area is important, how best the existing features and qualities should be retained and how the best of the new could be accommodated alongside.


The extent of controls within conservation areas is limited and not as extensive as many people may wish for. However the following policies are intended to make optimum use of the legislation as it stands.


New Development in Conservation Areas

In exercising its development control function within Conservation Areas a District Council must give special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the area.

POLICY QL7 - New Development in Conservation Areas

Planning Permission will be granted for new development, including extensions and alterations to unlisted buildings, in Conservation Areas provided it can be demonstrated that the development would preserve or enhance the existing character or appearance of the Conservation Area. In considering proposals special attention will be given to:

  1. preserving or enhancing the general character or appearance of the Conservation Area;
  2. respecting the historic context;
  3. preserving or enhancing existing important open spaces, or important views or spaces between buildings which contribute to the character or appearance of a Conservation Area;
  4. preserving trees which make a significant contribution to the character or appearance of a Conservation Area;
  5. preserving or enhancing important brick or local stone walls, gates, railings or other street scene features which contribute to the character or appearance of the area; and
  6. ensuring no harm to the particular contribution of an existing building to the Conservation Area.

Reasoned Justification

The character and appearance of an area is derived from a combination of factors including the age and architectural style, scale, height, detailing and use of materials in buildings, as well as from the density and layout of the area, the relationship of buildings to roads and to each other, plot sizes, ratio of building to plot size, the presence of open spaces, views, planting and other features such as boundary walls, railings and street furniture. 


There is a wide range of Conservation Areas within the District; the character of which and the opportunity for development in each, differs widely, even within individual Conservation Areas. 


It is important that the design, scale, materials, detailing, siting, landscape, floorscape andboundary treatment of any new development respects the qualities of the particular Conservation Area and the context of the site.


Well executed contemporary architecture can make a positive contribution to the historic interest and architectural character of a Conservation Area, and may be appropriate, for example, where the character of the area is one of a variety of architectural styles and periods. There may be other instances where the most appropriate form of development would be a continuation of the existing style. Poorly executed "pastiche" styles which simply mimic features of adjacent buildings can, however, devalue the architectural quality of an area.


New development should also safeguard and be sympathetic to existing townscape features such as historic street furniture, historic paving materials and kerbs, decorative railings or walls.


The presence and quality of open space within a Conservation Area can make a significant contribution to its character and appearance. The contribution of space might be the presence of the space and the consequent relationship between buildings, or it might be the views that it allows through and within the Conservation Area. The value of a space might also be in the quality of planting it contains. The private spaces between and around buildings can be just as significant within a Conservation Area as more formal public spaces such as greens, squares, parks and gardens. Development which could otherwise be accommodated within a site may not be acceptable in principle in a Conservation Area where the space is important to the character or appearance of the Conservation Area. 


Outline planning applications for development in Conservation Areas will rarely contain sufficient information to fully assess the impact of the development and the District Council will normally expect a fully detailed application for development proposals.


Conservation Areas are designated for their character, a character which is often greatlydependent upon the architectural appearance of its component buildings. Extensions and alterations can affect this character and, unless carefully controlled, can damage the special character and appearance of a Conservation Area by:-

  • building within space around buildings which contributes to the special character or appearance of the Conservation Area;
  • altering the form of a building where the form is a characteristic feature of the area, thereby reducing its contribution to the architectural or historic interest of the Conservation Area;
  • copying the style of the principal building in a way that debases the original identity of it, thereby reducing its contribution to the architectural or historic interest of the Conservation Area;
  • concealing, restricting or resulting in the loss of an important feature which contributes to the character or the historic interest of the Conservation Area.

Extensions to buildings in a Conservation Area will be more compatible with the character of the Conservation Area if they avoid the above and are subservient to the original structure in terms of height and size.


The contribution of existing buildings to the character and appearance of a Conservation Area can be debased by unsympathetic alterations. For example UPVC windows would normally be an inappropriate replacement of timber windows, and mock top hung "sash" windows are generally an inappropriate replacement of sliding sash windows. Standard mass-produced doors are also normally incompatible with the particular character of individual buildings within Conservation Areas. The District Council will consider restricting permitted development rights to control such changes where they would not require planning permission and are likely to threaten the special architectural or historic character of the Conservation Area.


The District Council has commenced a programme for the preparation of Conservation Area appraisals to support detail decisions based on the policies of the Local Plan.

Demolition of Buildings in Conservation Areas

POLICY QL8 - Demolition of Buildings in Conservation Areas

Proposals for the demolition of a building or structure in a Conservation Area will not be permitted unless it is clearly demonstrated that:-

  1. the building or structure is of no recognised interest by itself or by association and has no value to, or has a character or appearance inappropriate to, the Conservation Area;
  2. its demolition or replacement would enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area;
  3. in the case of buildings which are considered to make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of the Conservation Area, it is clearly demonstrated to be redundant and wholly beyond repair and there are detailed and appropriate proposals for redevelopment, together with clear evidence that such redevelopment will proceed; and
  4. there are overriding safety or other reasons.

Reasoned Justification

Not all buildings within a Conservation Area are listed. There are many unlisted buildings which make a positive contribution to the character of a Conservation Area either on their own or as part of a group. They can also be important in providing a sense of enclosure or act as a focal point. In these circumstances the Council will not normally be prepared to grant permission for demolition or redevelopment, and in any application involving demolition would expect to see clear and convincing evidence of the building's obsolescence in line with the advice in PPG15, "Planning and the Historic Environment".


There are other instances where buildings either harm or make a neutral contribution to the special architectural or historic character and appearance of a Conservation Area. Demolition or redevelopment of these sites could open up important views of historic buildings or provide an opportunity, through good design, to enhance the area.


Where demolition is unavoidable, careful consideration will be given to the effect any replacement building has on the local scene to ensure that it makes an equal or enhanced contribution to the special character and appearance of the Conservation Area. Planning Permission will, in appropriate cases, only be granted subject to a condition requiring a contract to be let for the redevelopment before any demolition takes place.


Wherever beneficial, materials should be salvaged from the building(s) and re-used in conservation and restoration schemes, either through redevelopment of the site concerned or the refurbishment or repair of other buildings.

Settings of Conservation Areas

POLICY QL9 - Settings of Conservation Areas

Planning Permission or Advertisement Consent will not be granted where the proposal would adversely affect the setting of a Conservation Area.


Reasoned Justification

Development permitted outside but in the vicinity of a Conservation Area can still affect the character of the area and development need not necessarily have to abut the boundary to have an effect on the character of a Conservation Area. A new building or advertisement sited some distance outside but seen in conjunction with a Conservation Area in views towards, or out of the area, can be harmful to its character. The settings of Conservation Areas in prominent hill locations, such as those at Malvern Wells, Bayton and Abberley, in riverside locations such as Tenbury Wells, Kempsey, Powick or Upton upon Severn, or landscape and countryside settings such as Bushley, Castlemorton, Hallow, Hanley Castle, Leigh or Madresfield are particularly sensitive to new development.


The entrance and exit points of Conservation Areas are also important and new development on the edge of a Conservation Area in these sensitive locations can have a significant impact on the historic scene.


Listed Buildings

POLICY QL10 - Alterations and Extensions to Listed Buildings

  1. Alterations to listed buildings will only be granted if the works involve the retention of the architectural and historic character of the listed building.
  2. Planning Permission for extensions to Listed Buildings will be granted only if:-
    1. the proposal would complement the building's special architectural, historic interest, historic form and structural integrity;
    2. new work or extensions would respect or be in sympathy with the character of the building in terms of siting, scale, height, mass, width and position;
    3. sympathetic natural materials and building techniques, matching the original, are used in repair and replacement work;
    4. the development involves protection of open areas which contribute to the building's setting or special architectural or historic interest;
    5. the development retains and protects features which contribute to the building's special architectural or historic interest and the form of the original building; and
    6. the extension respects the setting of an adjacent listed building.

Reasoned Justification

Most Listed Buildings demonstrate a history of adaptation and change which reflects and demonstrates changing social standards and design influences. The pressure for change is now more demanding than ever. Historic buildings are threatened not so much by demolition or neglect, but by unsuitable alteration or extension. Section 7 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ensures that any work which affects the character of a Listed Building requires the consent of the District Council. In exercising its development control function, the District Council must give special attention to the effect of the proposed change on the special interest of the building.


Primarily, it is essential in considering any alterations to a Listed Building that the special architectural or historic interest of the building is understood. This is the reason why the building was listed as being of architectural or historic interest, and so protection of this quality must be a primary consideration in any Local Plan policy.


Alterations to a Listed Building can be damaging. Even small changes, for example the removal of a wall or a staircase, or the replacement of a window, can be harmful to the special architectural or historic interest of a building. Virtually no listed building remains in its original condition and the great majority have had alterations made over their lifetimes, with effective legislative control to regulate these changes only over the past fifty years, so the balance to be struck in any decision on alterations to listed buildings is between allowing alterations to fabric which may be original or a more recent addition, in the interests of the modern usage of the building, and insisting on the retention of an original plan form or feature, the loss of which could irreparably alter its essential historic interest.


Some historic buildings are too small or unsuitably planned for convenient re-use and retention may only be possible by means of alteration or the provision of an extension. Such extensions to listed buildings must be designed with great care and attention to ensure that new development does not detract from their special architectural or historic interest. The location and scale of extensions are two particularly important considerations and tend to be least damaging where they are subservient and located at the rear of a building. However, every Listed Building is different and each will need to be individually considered. Extensions which conceal important features or necessitate the removal of historic fabric are unlikely to be acceptable. There are listed buildings where there will not be any significant scope for extension, perhaps because of architectural symmetry, a particular plan form, or perhaps because they have already been extended to their capacity.   


The District Council is to publish a register of listed buildings at risk, together with a strategy which will establish a monitoring programme for buildings at risk and procedures for providing advice/assistance on repairs, grant schemes and alternative uses. This Register will be based upon English Heritage's Register of Buildings at Risk for Grades I and II* and on the District Council's own assessment for Grade II listed buildings.

POLICY QL11 - Demolition of a Listed Building

Development involving the demolition of a Listed Building will only be granted planning consent in exceptional circumstances where it can be demonstrated that:-

  1. every possible effort has been made to preserve the structure of the building;
  2. every possible effort has been made to continue the present use or to find a suitable alternative use for the building;
  3. it is not practical to incorporate the existing building into a development proposal;
  4. demolition and the creation of a cleared site will not cause harm to the setting of any other Listed Building or the character of a Conservation Area; and
  5. where appropriate, the proposal is accompanied by a detailed planning application showing satisfactory redevelopment proposals for the site.

Reasoned Justification

Listed Buildings represent an irreplaceable record of history relating to building skills, design, improving technology and changing and improving social standards, and there is a clear presumption in favour of their retention. Only in exceptional circumstances will proposals involving the demolition of a Listed Building be allowed and such proposals will require the strongest justification in line with the advice given in PPG15, including:-

  1. clear and convincing evidence that all reasonable efforts have been made to continue the present use of the building or find viable new uses, have failed;
  2. evidence that the unrestricted freehold of the building has been offered for sale on the open market at a reasonable market price;
  3. evidence that preservation by a charity or community ownership is not possible or suitable;
  4. evidence that proposals for the alternative use of the site or redevelopment would have substantial environmental and community benefits to outweigh the case for preservation of the building.

Where the loss of a building has an impact on the wider environment, for example a building in a Conservation Area or is one of a group of historic buildings, consent will not be granted for demolition until the District Council is satisfied with the redevelopment proposal.


Where, exceptionally, permission is allowed for development involving demolition, the permission will be subject to conditions requiring the proper recording of the Listed Building prior to demolition and, where appropriate, requiring that no demolition be undertaken until a contract for the redevelopment has been let, in order that gap sites are not left in sensitive locations for prolonged periods of time.


Wherever beneficial, materials should be salvaged from the buildings and re-used in conservation and restoration schemes, either through redevelopment of the site concerned or the refurbishment or repair of other buildings.

POLICY QL12 - Alternative Uses for Listed Buildings

Planning Permission for new uses within a Listed Building will be granted provided that the new use:-

  1. will assist in the retention of an under-used Listed Building;
  2. would neither cause nor perpetuate the under-use of any part of the Listed Building or other buildings forming an important part of its setting;
  3. can be accommodated within the building without alteration or extension which would be harmful to the character, setting, structural integrity or special architectural or historic interest of the building;
  4. does not involve the change of use or alteration of external spaces for ancillary purposes which would adversely affect the setting of the listed Building; and
  5. enables the Listed Building and its contribution to any group value to be properly preserved.

Reasoned Justification

The best use of a Listed Building is the use for which it was originally designed. This cannot always be maintained and in the case of functionally redundant buildings, such as agricultural, industrial or ecclesiastical buildings, alternative uses may be necessary to ensure their survival. However new uses frequently necessitate change to a building, usually the subdivision of the interior, the provision of extra openings and other alterations to meet fire and building regulations. In determining any change of use application the Council will be looking to ensure that the new use and the manner of accommodating it within the building is not harmful to its special architectural or historic interest.


A new use also generally involves change to the use of the space around the building, most frequently to accommodate car parking and sub-division of space to create new curtilages. These changes and the manner and materials in which they are executed affect the setting of the building and, while the change of use of the building in itself may be acceptable, the treatment of the space around may be harmful to the setting and the relationship of the building with its context.


It is often necessary for Listed Buildings to lie empty for some time in order to find the most appropriate use or wait until the economic climate is right. As long as a building is secure, a "moth balling" scheme can be a more acceptable solution than a use which necessitates harmful alterations or sub-divisions.


Listed agricultural buildings take a variety of forms eg barns, cart sheds, granaries, stables dovecotes, mills, milking parlours and livestock units. Their age, character and quality varies but due to the changing structure of the rural economy and changing patterns in agriculture, many of these buildings are becoming surplus to requirements, leading to pressures for change. Such changes may lead to adverse effects on the fabric and character of historic farm buildings and the landscape in terms of visual amenity, particularly when this involves the creation of a residential curtilage around a newly converted building. Efforts should be made to minimise the amount of alterations necessary to achieve the new use. It is important to recognise the qualities of the original character and appearance of the building and its setting, and this can be best achieved by accepting that the existing structure provides the basis for the proposals rather than unnecessarily adapting the building to suit new accommodation requirements.


In considering alternative uses the preferential uses will always have regard to the character of the Listed Building but in principle will follow those set out in Policy EP6 - Re-Use of Rural Buildings.

POLICY QL13 - New Development affecting the Setting of Listed Buildings

Planning Permission will not be granted for development which would harm the character or setting of a Listed Building.


Reasoned Justification

 The setting of a Listed Building is often an essential and integral part of its character and special interest. Many Listed Buildings have an intimate and historically or architecturally important relationship with their settings. The setting of a building can extend beyond the immediate curtilage of the building to include the relationship of the principal building with its curtilage buildings, nearby buildings which may be in separate or unrelated use, for example buildings in a street scene, or may extend much wider, for example, the parkland setting of country house, or distant views of building in the landscape. Inappropriate development within the setting can cause as much harm to the special interest of a Listed Building as an inappropriate alteration or extension. Care needs to be taken in development proposals to avoid isolating a building from its surroundings and to ensure that any new development is sensitively sited and appropriately designed.


The sub-division of space around a Listed Building, a change of use of space or the introduction of surfacing materials can also be damaging to the setting of Listed Buildings. The introduction of new boundaries to define new curtilages to converted buildings, for example, can isolate a building from its setting and can harm its relationship with associated buildings. The introduction of car parking can be harmful to the setting of a building by the presence of vehicles seen in context with the building and by the introduction of inappropriate surfacing materials to create the parking area.


Where the siting of new development is acceptable great care will be taken by the District Council to ensure that the design of the development is appropriate in scale, density, form, materials and detail to the quality of the setting.

POLICY QL13A - Enabling Development

Enabling Development will only be permitted where:

  1. the enabling development will secure the long term future of the heritage asset;
  2. it is demonstrated that the amount of enabling development is the minimum necessary to secure the long term future of the heritage asset, and that its form minimises negative effects;
  3. the enabling development will not materially detract from the archaeological, architectural, historic, landscape or biodiversity interest of the asset, or materially harm its setting;
  4. the proposal avoids detrimental fragmentation of management of the heritage asset;
  5. the need for the development arises from the inherent needs of the heritage asset, rather than the circumstances of the present owner or the purchase price paid;
  6. it can be demonstrated that sufficient financial assistance is not available from any other source; and
  7. the value to the community of the resulting development and the survival or enhancement of the heritage asset outweighs the long-term cost to the community of providing the enabling development.

Reasoned Justification

‘Enabling Development’ is development that would normally be contrary to planning policy, but is occasionally permitted in exceptional circumstances where the benefits the development brings to the community and the heritage asset outweigh the negative effects. Enabling Development may be linked to the restoration of a Listed Building, registered garden or Scheduled Ancient Monument that is neglected, dilapidated or otherwise perceived to be ‘at risk’. Enabling development which involves an economically advantageous change of use to a Listed Building will also need to meet the criteria set out in Policy QL12.


The Policy Statement published by English Heritage in June 2001 “Enabling Development and the Conservation of Heritage Assets” states that there should be a presumption against such ‘enabling development‘. Enabling development will only be permitted in special circumstances after all other potential options have been fully evaluated and funds for repairs cannot be generated from any other source. The enabling development must be securely and enforceably linked to the heritage objectives.


Permission should only be granted if the asset is not materially harmed, and the applicant convincingly demonstrates that on balance, the benefits clearly outweigh any disbenefits, not only to the historic asset or its setting, but to any other relevant planning interests.


Subject to meeting all the criteria in Policy QL13A, planning permission will only be granted if:

  1. The impact of the development is precisely defined at the outset, normally through the granting of full rather than outline planning permission;
  2. The achievement of the heritage objective is securely and enforceably linked to it, in accordance with DOE Circular 01/97, Planning obligations (replaced by Circular 05/05) and consists of a legal agreement geared to linking for example, sale of occupancy of enabling residential units to deliverable stages in the restoration of the principal listed building; and
  3. The heritage asset is repaired to an agreed standard, or the funds to do so made available, as early as possible in the course of the enabling development, ideally at the outset and certainly before completion or occupation of the enabling development.

The onus will be on the applicant to provide the options and development appraisals to support proposed Enabling Development. Establishing need is at the heart of any application for Enabling Development. It would not be reasonable for the District Council to grant consent unless it is satisfied that need had been demonstrated through the submission of a fully argued case by the applicant, and its rigorous testing by the planning authority. When assessing proposals statutory planning policies will not be lightly set aside and natural environmental assets and community interests will be given appropriate weight in all decisions alongside heritage considerations.


Where development is permitted, to ensure that the commercial element of the development cannot be carried out or used without the heritage benefits on which the scheme has been predicated materialising, the benefits of the scheme will need to be secured through a Section 106 Agreement. 


Ancient Monuments and Archaeology

Ancient Monuments and other Archaeological Sites

POLICY QL14 - Scheduled Ancient Monuments and other Archaeological Sites

  1. Development which would have a direct or indirect adverse effect on the site, setting or amenity value of a Scheduled Ancient Monument, or other archaeological remains of national importance, will not be permitted as there will be a presumption in favour of the physical preservation of such remains in situ.
  2. Development which would have a direct or indirect adverse effect on the site or setting of archaeological remains of regional, county, or local importance will not be permitted unless it is clearly demonstrated that the following criteria are met:-
    1. there are no reasonable alternative means of meeting the need for development appropriate to the level of importance of the archaeological site and its setting; and
    2. the reasons for the development outweigh the archaeological importance of the site and its setting and the need to safeguard the wider stock of such settings.

Reasoned Justification

Archaeological remains are a finite and non-renewable resource, in many cases highly fragile and vulnerable to damage and destruction. They occur in the form of below ground remains and upstanding structures and are evidence of human activity from all periods of the past. Government guidance in Planning Policy Guidance Note 16 is clear in its advice to District Councils that the preservation of archaeological sites is a material consideration in the planning process and development proposals will be assessed against potential impact on these sites.


Malvern Hills District has a significant number of sites of national archaeological interest including Iron Age, Roman, Norman, Medieval and later periods. These known archaeological sites are recorded in the County Sites and Monuments Record maintained and constantly updated by the County Archaeological Service. The Central Marches Historic Survey is compiling maps which indicate the extent of Areas of Urban Archaeological Interest. This information will be produced in the form of archaeological constraint maps to which the District Council will have regard when considering development proposals in such areas.


Many of the sites in the Plan area are statutorily protected by the Secretary of State through inclusion in the Schedule of Ancient Monuments. The Ancient Monuments and ArchaeologicalAreas Act 1979 requires that consent is required for the Secretary of State for any works affecting a Scheduled Ancient Monument.


Many other sites as yet not scheduled or recorded may be equally important and worthy of protection and evaluation. The evaluation of sites may vary from large scale rescue excavation through to watching brief work.


Planning Policy Guidance Note 16 states that in exercising its development control function the District Council must consider the effect of development proposals on archaeological sites as material to the determination of planning applications. Unsympathetic development can prejudice the use of these sites for education, leisure or tourist opportunities. Planning policies should seek to reconcile the need for development with the interests of conservation including archaeology.


The District Council places great importance on whether archaeological remains exist on potential development sites and the likely implications arising from the proposed development. To speed up the process and organise the scope for mitigation developers should seek to determine, prior to the submission of a planning application, the presence of and extent of archaeological remains on the proposed site. The first step in this respect would be to contact the County Archaeological Officer who holds the Sites and Monuments Record. Prospective developers should commission their own archaeological assessment by a suitably qualified consultant / organisation. Such an assessment does not necessarily involve field work and usually involves only desk based evaluation of existing information. The basis for such an assessment should be an agreed brief initially prepared by the County Archaeological Service acting as advisors to the District Council. The District Council will consult the County Archaeological Officer on proposals for development likely to affect the site or setting of archaeological remains.


Should the site be of known or potential archaeological or the findings of an archaeological assessment reveal the presence of or potential for archaeological interest, then an archaeological evaluation will be required. In order to define the character and extent of potential important archaeological remains and to help identify options for minimising or avoiding damage the applicant must arrange for an archaeological field evaluation to be carried out prior to determination of the application. This usually involves ground survey and small scale trenching, carried out by a suitably qualified archaeologist.


In order to preserve archaeologically sensitive sites the District Council will:

  1. ensure that where an archaeological field evaluation has been submitted and approved, its recommendations based on this evaluation have been taken fully into account;
  2. where appropriate, ensure that remains are preserved in-situ by the careful design, layout and siting of new development;
  3. seek to ensure that where an archaeological site does not warrant physical preservation but is nevertheless seen as important, appropriate provision for the excavation, recording and publication of the archaeological site is made; and
  4. approve proposals which encourage the enhancement and management of archaeological sites that develop the educational, recreational or tourism potential of the site provided this has no significant affect on the site or its setting.

Where archaeological excavation work is to be carried out on a development site a condition or Section 106 Agreement under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) may be necessary to ensure satisfactory provision is made for excavation, recording and publication. 

Historic Parks and Gardens

POLICY QL15 - Historic Parks and Gardens

Development proposals which would adversely affect the character, appearance or setting of a registered park or garden will not be permitted. Particular attention will also be paid to the protection or enhancement of views into and out of a registered park or garden.


Reasoned Justification

The effect of a proposed development on a registered park or garden or its setting is a material consideration in the determination of a planning application. Whilst no statutory controls follow from the inclusion of a site in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest, the Council will seek to protect such sites from the effects of development proposals in order to safeguard their historic interest. Registered Parks and Gardens are identified on the Proposals Map. The following are Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Malvern Hills District:

Abberley Hall, Croome Court, Pirton Park, Madresfield Court, Kyre Park and Witley Court.


The Natural Environment

POLICY QL16 - Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

  1. Proposals for development likely to affect, or likely to result in an unacceptable risk of an adverse effect, on a designated or proposed Site of Special Scientific Interest will be subject to special scrutiny. The District Council will adopt a precautionary approach in the determination of planning applications and proposals will not be considered unless the full impact of a scheme can be assessed. Where development would have an adverse impact on the integrity of a site it will not be permitted unless;
    1. the reasons for the development outweigh the impact on the importance of the site and the need to safeguard the nature conservation value of the national network of such sites; and
    2. it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that there are no reasonable alternative sites or solutions to accommodate the development proposed.
  2. Where development is permitted, damage will be required to be kept to an absolute minimum and where habitat is destroyed, appropriate compensatory measures will be required.

Reasoned Justification

The Government’s policy on the protection of SSSI is set out in PPG9 Nature Conservation (replaced by PPS9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation). Worcestershire County Structure Plan Policy CTC11 (Sites of National Wildlife Importance) reflects this policy.


Sites of Special Scientific Interest are designated by English Nature under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The selection of such areas is based upon scientific criteria, the principal aim of which is to safeguard the long-term future of the site in terms of its flora, fauna or geological or geophysical features. There are 47 SSSIs within the District. These are listed in Appendix 4 and indicated on the Proposals Map.


As part of a Management Agreement owners of land on which SSSIs have been designated are provided with a list of “works “ which will require consent from English Nature. Consent will be withheld if the work is considered likely to damage the special features of a site. This applies to owner/occupiers and, more recently, to public bodies under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.


The District Council has a duty to consult English Nature on all planning applications that may affect the integrity of an SSSI. In determining these applications it will be necessary for the District Council, in consultation with English Nature, to determine the extent to which the proposal will impact on the nature conservation interests of the site and whether the proposal could be modified in order to prevent damage. This consultation would also determine whether the reasons for the proposed development outweigh the national importance of the site.


The District Council will require planning applications to be accompanied by sufficient information to determine the extent of any impact on the site. Developers may be required to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under the Town & Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999 to demonstrate that the development can be carried out without significant reduction in the nature conservation interest of the site, or that the site can recover from any short-term damage within a reasonable timescale.


The impact of indirect and cumulative actions as well as direct effects of a proposal will be considered. Planning permission will only be granted for proposals which can be accommodated without an adverse effect on a site and will be subject to planning conditions and Section 106 Agreements as and where appropriate. The District Council will not accept compensatory mitigation proposals which involve the translocation of habitats.


The policy applies both to existing sites and new or proposed sites which may be designated by English Nature.

POLICY QL17 - Sites of Regional or Local Wildlife Importance

Development proposals which would have an adverse effect, or would result in an unacceptable risk of an adverse effect, on a Local Nature Reserve, Special Wildlife Site or a Site of Wildlife Importance (subject to a Section 39 Agreement under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that;

  1. the reasons for the development outweigh the intrinsic value of the site and the need to safeguard the network of such sites;
  2. there are no reasonable alternative sites or solutions to accommodate the development proposed; and
  3. that appropriate compensatory habitat provision or management is provided and maintained. 

Reasoned Justification

Policy CTC12 of the Worcestershire Structure Plan deals with Sites of Regional or Local Wildlife Importance. Policy QL21 builds upon this and sets out how the District Council will deal with development proposals which may affect sites referred to in the policy.


Special Wildlife Sites (SWS) are designated by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and are those sites that are of County importance for nature conservation. They also provide :-

  • a valuable example of a particular wildlife community and/or
  • have a rich and/or scarce flora and/or fauna.

Other sites included in this category include Local Nature Reserves which are designated by Local Authorities. Currently the District has one Local Nature Reserve at St Wulstans in Malvern Wells owned by the District Council and managed in association with local volunteers.


This category also includes Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphologic Sites (RIGS) identified by the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust. RIGS are any geological or geomorphologic sites that are considered worthy of protection for their educational, research, historical or aesthetic importance. The sites are non-statutory but are on a par with SWS and will be afforded the same protection. RIGS sites are referred to in Appendix 5 and indicated on the Proposals Map.


The District Council will consult Worcestershire Wildlife Trust on any planning applications affecting SWS. This consultation will determine whether the reasons for the proposal outweigh the intrinsic value of the site and the need to safeguard the network of such sites.


In instances of proven need, or of strategic importance to the District, and where there are no acceptable alternative solutions, development which would have a minor or short term impact on a SWS may be permitted. Developers may be requested, in such circumstances, to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment to demonstrate that the development can be carried out without significant reduction the nature conservation interest of the site or that the site can recover from any short-term damage within a reasonable time-scale.


The impact of indirect and cumulative actions as well as direct effects of a proposal will be considered. Planning permission will only be granted for proposals which can be accommodated without an adverse effect on a site and will be subject to planning conditions and Section 106 Agreements as and where appropriate. Restrictions may be imposed on the timing of development in order to enable the relocation of species at the most appropriate time of year. The District Council will not accept compensatory mitigation proposals which involve the translocation of habitats.


The policy applies both to existing sites and new or proposed sites which may be designated by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and by Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust in the case of RIGS. Existing sites are listed in Appendix 5.

POLICY QL18 - Protected Species

  1. Development proposals which would have an adverse impact on any species protected by national legislation will not be permitted unless:
    1. there are over-riding reasons for the development which are in the public interest and, which outweigh the protected status of the species;
    2. the District Council is satisfied that there are no reasonable alternative sites or solutions to accommodate the development proposed; and
    3. where appropriate, measures have been taken to reduce disturbance to the species to a minimum, and included to facilitate the survival of individual members of the species.
  2. Development proposals which would have an adverse effect on any species protected by European legislation will only be permitted where, in addition to a), b) and c) above, it can be demonstrated that the impact of the proposal is not detrimental to the maintenance of the species’ population at a favourable conservation status in its natural range.

Reasoned Justification

Policy CTC13 of the Worcestershire Structure Plan deals with the Protection of Species. Policy QL18 builds upon this and sets out how the District Council will deal with development proposals which may affect species and habitats referred to in the policy.


Studies have revealed that there has been an overall decline in biodiversity and the area of semi-natural habitat in the District. This has been partly due to development pressure. Areas under the greatest pressure include woodlands, meadows, ponds, streams and wetlands and it is these type of areas in particular which need to be protected.


PPG 9 Nature Conservation states that “the presence of a protected species is a material consideration when a local planning authority is considering a development proposal which, if carried out, would be likely to result in harm to the species or its habitat”. In order to reflect this developers will be required to provide sufficient protected species information to inform the local authority's decision-making process. This must be available before an application can be determined. A number of these species occur within the District and developers should be aware that whilst they can occur in designated sites of importance, they do occur elsewhere in the District. Particular care should be taken with buildings where the presence of bats may be considered likely.


The EC Habitats Directive lists those plants and animals that are rare or threatened in Europe. These species are protected under The Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994. Those species that are nationally rare or threatened are protected under separate legislation. Protected species found in the District include bats, badgers, barn owls, great crested newts, water voles, native crayfish and otters.


The District Council will consult with English Nature and other appropriate wildlife organisations on any applications that affect a known or suspected protected species or habitat. It is the responsibility of the developer to ensure that they do not contravene the regulations that aim to protect the species. Developers should contact English Nature for advice on the identification and methods of protection where it is known or suspected that a protected species may be affected. They may be required to submit additional information, which provides an assessment of the impact of the proposal on the protected species. The information will need to include surveys taken at appropriate times of the year for the species concerned. If permission is granted and there is more than one year’s delay in the commencement of development a further survey may be required. If planning permission is granted it is the responsibility of the developer to acquire the appropriate licences. 


Development that would have an adverse impact upon protected species and/or habitats will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that there are over-riding reasons i.e. public health reasons etc. Where development is permitted any mitigatory measures will be secured through a planning condition or Section 106 Agreement although this will exclude translocation in the majority of cases.

POLICY QL19 - Protection of Wider Biodiversity

  1. Development proposals will be required to retain natural habitat and features of ecological and nature conservation value in situ where possible. Proposals which would have an adverse impact on the integrity of habitats, species and features will only be permitted where:
    1. the reasons for the proposal outweigh the impact on the intrinsic nature conservation value of the habitat, species or feature;
    2. the Council is satisfied that there are no reasonable alternative sites or solutions to accommodate the development proposed; and
    3. compensatory habitat provision or management and suitable arrangements for maintenance is provided in appropriate circumstances.
  2. Where potential exists for wildlife corridors the importance of such links will be taken intoaccount by the District Council when considering development proposals. Development will only be permitted where such links are maintained or suitable alternatives provided.

Reasoned Justification

Biodiversity originates from the term ”Biological Diversity” and equates with what is popularly known as wildlife but also encompasses the wider meaning of the habitats – for example woodlands, meadows, rivers, ponds and streams on which wildlife depends. The Government has recognised the important part that biodiversity plays in people’s everyday lives and published the UK Biodiversity Action Plan in 1994. PPS9 requires Development Plans to set out policies on protection of biodiversity and geological conservation, its principle objective is to conserve and enhance biological diversity.


Worcestershire, in common with other Counties, has seen an overall reduction in biodiversity and semi-natural habitats in the past. This appears to be continuing today. Following the publication of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan a local forum consisting of local authorities and organisations with nature conservation interests was established in order to address biodiversity at a more local level and to prepare an Action Plan.


In February 1999 the Worcestershire Biodiversity Action Plan was published. It highlights which species are the most threatened in Worcestershire, defines actions that are required in order to protect and enhance their populations and outlines the co-ordinated approach that should be adopted in order to conserve/enhance Biodiversity.


The Regional Spatial Strategy for the West Midlands (2004) identifies the Malvern Hills and the Teme Valley as areas for biodiversity enhancement.


The District’s biodiversity is made up not only of rare, threatened or important species but also a wealth of more common habitat and species. It has a nationally important concentration of semi-natural meadows and pastures, and also some of the few remaining old orchards, particularly cider and perry orchards. Although many of these features are not designated sites, their protection is no less important.


All habitats have their own value but it is important to recognise that they also act as wildlife corridors or links to enable the migration, dispersal and genetic exchange of species important to the health of sites of designated importance and referred to in other Plan policies.


The District Council acknowledges the importance of Biodiversity and the role that it plays in people’s lives. This policy seeks to manage the protection of levels of biodiversity by recognising the importance of habitats and features which fall outside designated sites and their value as wildlife corridors. The Council will aim to ensure that development proposals will not result in any further loss of species or habitat.


In the interests of biodiversity the District Council has an important role in safeguarding important wildlife sites against inappropriate development. However, it is not just these sites which require protection but the wildlife corridors which link these areas together. Within urban areas, corridors take the form of rivers, streams, railways, road verges, playing fields and even small woodlands. The Biodiversity Action Plan for Worcestershire acknowledges the wildlife value of connecting networks between green spaces in urban areas. The Malvern Urban Greenspace Study identifies areas which provide a significant link with the countryside enabling isolated areas containing a variety of animal, plant and habitat types to be interconnected. Wildlife corridors are a valuable resource both visually and ecologically, and it is essential that these routes are maintained and protected where possible to ensure the continued movement of wildlife. 


Developers should contact the Worcestershire Biological Records Centre for information on the biodiversity aspects of their proposals.


This policy applies both to existing identified wildlife corridors but also to any new corridors which may emerge and which in the opinion of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust should be afforded protection.

POLICY QL20 - Creation of Habitats

Where appropriate new development proposals will be required to include measures to support the creation of areas of semi-natural habitat. This process, including the creation of wildlife ponds, must not have an adverse impact on existing water resources or other features of environmental or ecological significance in line with other policies contained in the Plan. Contributions will be sought from developers to make suitable arrangements for the maintenance of the habitat created.


Reasoned Justification

In recent decades, the nature conservation resource of parts of the District has been irreparably damaged by increasing pressures for new developments together with changes in farming and forestry practices. The District Council considers that, where possible, opportunities should be sought to redress this situation by the creation of new wildlife habitats.


This policy approach is seen as serving both local environmental needs by visually enhancing the appearance of new development schemes and also the interests of biodiversity in the creation of new habitats.


Landscaping schemes forming part of new development proposals should provide for the retention of existing habitats in situ by incorporating existing features including trees, hedgerows and ponds into the final design. The emphasis is clearly on protecting original sites from loss or damage and it is important to recognise that once existing habitats are lost they can rarely be replaced.

Landscaping and New Development

POLICY QL21 - Landscaping

  1. The landscaping aspects of a development proposal will be required to form an integral part of the design. Landscaping schemes will be required to be submitted with all detailed planning applications and will need to ensure that development integrates appropriately into its surroundings and reflects local character. It will:
    1. take account of the existing character and features of the particular site and its wider landscape character;
    2. protect and retain existing trees, hedgerows and other landscape features worthy ofretention;
    3. ensure that traditional boundary features are retained, reinstated or introduced wherever appropriate in order to minimise visual intrusion on neighbouring uses or thecountryside;
    4. reflect local character in terms of choice of indigenous species of local provenance, materials, layout and potential for habitat creation; and
    5. make satisfactory provision for adequate maintenance and long term management of the scheme.
  2. Landscaping works should be undertaken during development or as soon as practicable thereafter. In the case of major proposals, consideration should be given to advanced landscaping works being carried out before building or enabling works are commenced. 

Reasoned Justification

Landscaping has an important role to play in ensuring that new development successfully integrates with its surroundings. It can create character and a sense of place, reflect localdistinctiveness, provide an attractive setting for buildings, screen views and support and extend wildlife habitats. Landscaping can be newly created or it can include existing site features such as trees, hedgerows. Woodland creation and tree planting will be supported as an important part of the urban and rural landscape and in providing opportunities for recreation and education, with associated economic and health benefits.


High quality landscape schemes and the proper provision for future maintenance are an important part of achieving an attractive environment. Generally, landscape proposals will be required to accompany detailed planning applications with sufficient detail submitted to enable the quality of the proposed development to be fully assessed. The proposed arrangements for future maintenance of landscape areas should form part of the submitted information. Developers will need to make arrangements for the maintenance of strategic landscaping areas for a period of 25 years.


Development proposals should respect existing landscape features and seek to retain and enhance those which are of value to the character and appearance of the locality, amenity, nature conservation, habitat creation and cultural heritage. Plant species will need to be carefully chosen with an understanding of their characteristics, ultimate height, spread, vulnerabilities and maintenance requirements and should be indigenous species of local provenance appropriate to the area. In certain urban areas there has been a tradition of planting ornamental/exotic species, particularly during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. These planting regimes have contributed to the townscape and character and qualities of the area and consideration may be given, in appropriate circumstances, to non indigenous plant species which are typical of the specific location.


Developers will be expected to ensure the protection of notable features during development, implement new planting as soon as practicable and to maintain and where necessary replace both existing features and any new planting. Where development is permitted in visually sensitive locations, it may be appropriate to require that elements of the overall landscaping scheme associated with the development area are implemented at the earliest possible stage in order to achieve an effective assimilation of the development into its surroundings within the shortest possible timescale.

Protection of Trees, Woodlands and Hedgerows

POLICY QL22 - Protection of Trees, Woodlands and Hedgerows

The protection and enhancement of individual trees, tree groups, woodlands and hedgerows will be secured by:

  1. resisting proposals that would cause loss or damage to trees, woodlands or hedgerows which are worthy of retention due to their visual, historic or biodiversity value. In particular, proposals affecting protected trees and ancient or ancient semi-natural woodland will be subject to rigorous examination and removal will only be allowed where it can be demonstrated that the proposed development would enhance the landscape and nature conservation value of the area or is in the public interest. Where the felling of protected trees is accepted, replacement planting will be sought; and
  2. requiring development proposals to include an acceptable landscaping scheme which should provide for the retention of those trees and hedgerows considered important to local amenity, together with measures to ensure their protection during development. Where appropriate, any trees or woodland lost through development should be replaced with an equivalent area of planting.

Reasoned Justification

Trees, woodlands and hedgerows are an integral part of the District’s historical, visual and natural environment both within urban and rural areas. They are an important element in the landscape character of the District and make a vital contribution to the character and quality of Conservation Areas.


Trees and woodlands can screen development from view, soften its impact, improve its appearance and help assimilate it into the landscape. They can also provide wildlife and ecological interest, adding to the biodiversity of the area. Particular care should be taken with trees, where the presence of protected species, such as bats, should be considered. Policy QL18 addresses protected species. Forestry and woodlands along with associated commercial activities benefit the local economy and are resources for tourism and leisure activities.

a) Trees 


Where trees or groups of trees are threatened and it is considered that the tree(s) make an important contribution to the local amenity, the District Council will impose a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Permission is required from the District Council to fell or carry out other works to a tree protected by a TPO. When determining an application to carry out such work, regard will be had to the health and stability of the tree and its likely future life and likely contribution of the tree to public amenity. An application will not be allowed unless sufficient evidence is put forward to support the case which justified overriding the amenity value of the tree. Where trees protected by a TPO are felled, the District Council will require that they are replaced in a suitable position with locally appropriate species.


Where there are genuine health and safety concerns relating to ancient trees, any assessment and subsequent work should be undertaken by an arboriculturalist trained in the sympathetic management of such trees. Any work carried out should be the minimum necessary to give an acceptable level of safety. Felling must be considered as a last resort.


The District Council will expect proposals for development to include appropriate measures for the retention of existing vegetation and, wherever possible, for it to be supplemented by new planting. Where existing vegetation forms a significant feature of the site, the District Council will:

  • require a survey showing position, size and species of existing vegetation;
  • expect plans for new development to provide for the retention and sympathetic incorporation of existing suitable trees and hedgerows giving them appropriate space and setting;
  • where appropriate serve Tree Preservation Orders to ensure the continuing protection of important trees; and
  • impose conditions on planning permissions to ensure that adequate protection is given to retained trees and hedgerows during site clearance and building operations.

Conditions to any planning permissions will require safeguarding retained trees, woodlands or hedgerows, replacements where necessary, new planting and arrangements for on-going maintenance to ensure that landscape character is preserved and enhanced. 


Important trees, hedgerows and other landscape features may be identified through audits and appraisals such as Conservation Area Appraisals and Village Design Statements. Significant regard will be paid to the protection and enhancement of these features.

b) Woodlands


The District Council supports the Forestry Commission in their role of operating grant schemes for tree and woodland planting particularly where it strengthens the original woodland and retains landscape character. When responding to consultation from the Forestry Commission upon forestry proposals involving felling, replanting or afforestation, the District Council encourage, through negotiation, proposals which:

  • conserve and enhance ancient and ancient semi-natural woodland;
  • enhance the appearance of the landscape through careful and sensitive location and design;
  • are sensitive to and in accordance with the key characteristics described in the County Landscape Character Assessment;
    ensure planting of the appropriate choice of species;
    maintain and where suitable extend public access;
    provide appropriate tree and woodland planting around communities and on agricultural land to create a range of public benefits;
    protect ancient trees; and
    do not damage or destroy the existing ecological or archaeological interest of an area.

c) Ancient Woodlands


Ancient woodlands are listed on a draft register maintained by English Nature. They are those places which have had a continuous woodland cover since at least 1600AD and have only been cleared for underwood or timber production. These woodlands and ancient seminatural woodlands have landscape value but also are an important habitat for nature flora and fauna. They are an irreplaceable asset that once destroyed, can never be re-created. Policy QL22 provides additional protection for such woodland.

d) Hedgerows


After the loss of many hedgerows from the landscape, their value is being increasingly recognised. If a proposal is put forward which necessitates the removal of a hedgerow, the District Council will require an evaluation to be undertaken of the hedgerow’s ecological, archaeological and landscape value before determining the application. Particular regard will be had to the implication for established hedgerows of proposals to create new accesses to the vehicular carriageway and the establishment of sight lines. Certain hedgerows are given special protection through the 1997 Hedgerows Regulations. The District Council will issue Hedgerow Retention Notices where the removal of such hedgerows is being proposed. The loss of important hedgerows will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

Landscape Protection

POLICY QL23 - Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

  1. Within the Malvern Hills Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, priority will be given to the protection of the special landscape character of the area. Development that is not in accord with these characteristics or would harm the natural beauty of the area as defined on the Proposals Map will not be permitted. Development necessary for the social or economic well-being of the AONB will be permitted only where it can be shown that it will not harm the environment and the natural beauty of the landscape.
  2. When considering development proposals account will be taken of measures proposed to conserve and enhance the character of the designated area.

Reasoned Justification

The importance of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty has long been recognised in national planning policy. They are some of the most sensitive landscapes in the country and are particularly vulnerable to pressures for development and change. The primary purpose of designation is the conservation and enhancement of landscape beauty. The Government announced in June 2000 that AONBs have the same status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty as National Parks.


The Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which is located within the District and adjoining Herefordshire and Forest of Dean District was designated in 1959 and covers an area of approximately 104 sq.km (65 sq. miles). The special qualities of the area lie in its contrasts. The distinctive narrow north- south ridge rises up from the pastoral farmland patchwork of the Severn Vale and, to a less dramatic extent, from the lush, rolling landscape of East Herefordshire. It is a diverse area of mixed pastoral farming with fruit orchards, mixed crops, forestry, meadows and unimproved pastures. It is an important area in historic, ecological, geological and archaeological terms, adding to its character and qualities.


The AONB Management Plan, was adopted in 2004 and is a statutory document (under the provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act) and a material consideration in planning decisions. The role of the Plan is to conserve the special qualities of the AONB, manage the pressures upon them, and where appropriate, improve the AONB for present and future generations. A secondary responsibility for the AONB Partnership is the economic and social well being of the local community. Development, transport, tourism and recreation and housing are addressed in the plan, in terms of their implications for the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the AONB.


The planning system is one important way in which the objectives of the Management Plan can be implemented. This policy, read in conjunction with others in the Local Plan, is intended to guide and control development such as new building and the use of land and buildings. In doing so it will ensure that planning decisions are made which do not adversely affect, but conserve and where appropriate enhance the character, special qualities and appearance of the AONB. Development near the AONB or clearly visible from it could also be harmful to its character and setting.


Whilst the conservation and enhancement of the landscape beauty of the area is paramount in the consideration of planning applications for new development and land use change regard needs to be paid to the economic and social well being and needs of communities within the AONB. The challenge is to accommodate development to meet the social and economic needs of local communities whilst conserving and enhancing the landscape.

POLICY QL24 - Landscape Character

Proposals must demonstrate that they are informed by, and sympathetic to the landscape character of the area and will be required to safeguard, restore or enhance the character of the landscape in which they are proposed.

Development will be permitted where:

  1. the proposal relates to the character of the landscape and to the sensitivity of that landscape to accommodate change and safeguards or enhances those features that contribute to the landscape character and local distinctiveness; and
  2. the scale, location, layout, design, materials and detailing of the proposal is in keeping with the landscape character and does not have an adverse impact on visual amenity.

Reasoned Justification

The landscape within the District plays an important role in enhancing the quality of life for its residents and visitors to the area. In particular the Malvern Hills provide an important backdrop to Malvern and has a major influence on the perceptions of visitors approaching the Town along the main roads, and rail access route corridors. The River Teme and wooded slopes to the east of Tenbury Wells are major components forming the setting of the town and can be appreciated within the town’s wider setting visible from the main routes through and past the town.


In the past, landscape protection has been biased upon national and regionally recognised areas such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB’s) and Areas of Great Landscape Value (AGLV). PPG7 The Countryside – Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development however, advocates an all embracing character approach to landscape based on the principle that the countryside should be protected for its own sake. It emphasises that each area exhibits characteristics of local distinctiveness and that natural resources should be afforded protection.


This is recognised by Worcestershire County Structure Plan Policy CTC1 – Landscape Character which sets the strategic framework for the protection of the landscape across the county. Its reasoned justification outlines that development should be informed and sympathetic to:

  • the pattern and composition of woodland, hedgerows and streamside trees together with other components of tree cover including orchards;
  • the pattern and composition of field boundaries;
  • the pattern of settlements and roads;
  • the scale, layout, design and detailing of exiting buildings and other man made features;
  • the type and distribution of wildlife habitats;
  • the presence and pattern of historic landscapes, including parks, and gardens, commons and patterns of ridge and furrow;
  • natural patterns of drainage; and the sensitivity of a particular landscape to tolerate change.

The County Council is to undertake additional work on the Draft Worcestershire Landscape Character Assessment Supplementary Planning Guidance with the aim of providing guidance on landscape protection at a local level. This guidance will identify the range of landscapes found within the County and defines the components that contribute towards the character of these different areas. In the interim, both the AONB and the AGLV as defined on the Proposals map and the Draft Worcestershire Landscape Character Assessment will be used for development control purposes together with the following:

  • the Malvern Urban Green Space Study 2003;
  • Historic Landscape Surveys;
  • Parish Plans and Village Design Statements adopted as Supplementary Planning Documents;
  • Conservation Area appraisals; and
  • Hereford and Worcester Gardens Trust record.

In determining the impact of proposals, regard will be paid to the individual and cumulative impact of the proposals on landscape character and the capacity of the landscape to accommodate further development. Development proposals which would result in an unacceptable impact on landscape character will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that the need for development in that location outweighs its impact and there are no possible alternative locations which would have no or less significant adverse effects. Where appropriate, developers will be encouraged to restore degraded or despoiled landscape to their intrinsic character.


Environmental Protection

Protecting Water Supply

POLICY QL25 - Protecting Water Supply

  1. Development will only be permitted where:
    1. there is adequate capacity within the existing mains supply to serve the development and the existing water resources will not be compromised;
    2. in instances without an adequate supply the proposals make provision for an appropriate new or reinforced mains supply from the nearest point of adequacy; or
    3. in instances without an adequate supply and a non mains supply is proposed i.e. a borehole, it can be demonstrated that this will not have a detrimental effect upon other non mains supplies to existing users and nature conservation and provide an adequate supply for the use proposed.
  2. In cases where a new or reinforced mains supply is to be provided conditions may be applied to the grant of planning permission or agreement to ensure that the work to provide the additional water resources is undertaken prior to the development being occupied or brought into use.

Reasoned Justification

Water is a valuable resource which needs to be used effectively and efficiently. The District’s water supply comes from a variety of different sources such as reservoirs and groundwater facilities. The Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water are the main utility bodies responsible for protecting water supplies and for providing water within the District. The Environment Agency is responsible for policing and protecting the quality of inland and underground waters, for conserving and enhancing water resources and for licensing water abstraction. Advice from Severn Trent Water is essential in determining the availability of an adequate water supply for any new development and how any difficulties may be overcome.


In some areas water mains are of insufficient capacity to serve new developments because of the ever-increasing demands placed upon the existing infrastructure. The utility bodies propose few major improvements and work to reinforce mains can be very expensive. It may be possible to overcome local constraints if funding becomes available as a result of development proposals.


Some properties within the District have private licensed water supplies such as boreholes. Proposals for new boreholes have to be judged against how other supplies may be affected and their affect upon the natural environment.


The Environment Agency has a duty to ensure that schemes for the provision of water to serve new development will not impact upon existing users, nature conservation or recreation. It is also necessary to ensure that water supplies are adequate to meet current and future needs. In order to address these main issues the Agency has produced Local Environment Agency Plans (LEAPS) which cover the two main rivers catchment areas of the River Severn and the River Teme. These Plans are non-statutory action plans setting out programmes of work to be undertaken by the Agency over the next five years.

Pollution Control

POLICY QL26 - Pollution Control

Planning permission will not be granted for development which might give rise to air, noise, light or water pollution or cause soil contamination, where the levels of discharge, emission, ambient noise levels or continuous illumination are significant enough to cause harm or loss of amenity to other land, buildings or the natural environment. The effectiveness of proposed mitigation measures will be fully taken into account and may be the subject of conditions applied to any such development.


Reasoned Justification

The control of pollution is a complex process involving local authorities and a wide range of other statutory bodies. Government advice in PPG23 Planning and Pollution Control (1994) is that the planning system should not duplicate controls which are the statutory responsibility of other bodies. However, pollution impacts are material planning considerations which should not be ignored in the making of planning decisions.


PPG23 indicates that the consideration of development proposals should take into account the full range of pollution factors. These include the need to separate potentially polluting and other land uses to reduce conflicts, the possible impact of potentially polluting development on land use and the need to protect natural resources and improve the physical environment.


The policy indicates the District Council’s concern to ensure that the impact of sources of pollution is given sufficient weight in the development control process. It is intended to address factors such as the sensitivity of the locality to pollution effects and the existence of features which could be prone to damage from pollution; the loss of amenity which may arise from pollution; the extent of contamination of the site; the potential polluting effects of vehicles accessing a site; the hours of operation of a development where this may have an impact on neighbouring land uses; and the possibility of nuisance arising from the land use.


The District Council recognises the need for close co-operation between the different agencies to determine the potential pollution effects of a proposed development and the extent to which such effects can be mitigated through appropriate design and construction and through on-going regulation of the processes which the development is intended to accommodate. It is possible that, even taking account of the extent to which pollution can be controlled through these separate regulation systems, the potential impact of a proposed land use on a locality and its existing land uses could still be sufficiently detrimental to justify refusal of planning permission.

Foul Drainage 

POLICY QL27 - Foul Drainage

  1. In order that the amenity and use of land will not be adversely affected, proposals for development will be required to make adequate arrangements for foul sewage disposal. Where:
    1. development sites can be connected to existing mains/sewerage, development incorporating individual sewage treatment facilities will only be permitted where it can be shown that the amenity and use of other land will not be adversely affected;
    2. mains sewerage is not available developers must demonstrate that the use of individual facilities in the form of :-
      1. a package treatment plant incorporating a combination of treatment process; and only if this is not practicable,
      2. septic tank,
      3. where the use of treatment plants or septic tanks (discharging to foul soakaways) are considered, groundwater reserves should not be adversely affected and ground conditions should be satisfactory and of a size to provide adequate sub-soil drainage.
    1. it does not give rise to any adverse affect on the amenity and use of land and/or causing a public health nuisance or possible water pollution;
    2. increased sewerage and/or sewage treatment capacity is required, development will not be allowed to be occupied in advance of the completion of the improved facilities.
  2. All new foul and storm water drainage associated with the development should be designed and built to the adoption standards of the local water company. Where development will be connected to a private sewerage system and not connected directly to the public sewer developers will be required to demonstrate the integrity of the private system to accommodate the proposed development.
  3. Responsibility for demonstrating that new development is effectively served by a sewerage system rests primarily with the developer. Where sewage disposal proposals are assessed as being unsatisfactory or are not supported by adequate information development will not be permitted. 

Reasoned Justification

Environment Agency, local water and sewerage companies and the District Council’s environmental health function have various responsibilities in relation to environmental protection which should not be duplicated by the local planning authority. This policy seeks to ensure foul drainage facilities, involving the disposal of foul sewage, contaminated surface water and trade effluent, are adequate.


However Circular 3/99 Non Mains Sewerage Systems advises that responsibility for demonstrating that new development is effectively served by a sewerage system rests primarily with the developer. Where sewage disposal proposals are assessed as being unsatisfactory or are not supported by adequate information development will not be permitted.


Effluents need to be disposed of by a recognised water reclamation facility where capacity exists. It is often difficult to guarantee a consistent quality of effluent from small privately operated treatment plants and the problem can be compounded by having many units in close proximity giving rise to environmental health nuisance as well as potential water pollution problems. If a septic tank/soakaway system of foul drainage disposal is proposed, the developer will be required to support the planning application and Building Regulations application with a porosity test carried out to the appropriate standard to enable the Local Planning Authority and its consultees to determine the adequacy of the site to accommodate such a proposal. Advice upon the need for such a test can be obtained from the District Council.


The Environment Agency has defined Source Protection Zones (SPZs) for groundwater sources used for public drinking water supply. SPZs provide an indication of the potential risk of pollution. Generally the closer a polluting activity or release is to a groundwater source the greater the risk. Three zones (an inner, outer and total catchment) are usually defined although a fourth zone (zone of special interest) can also be defined, and are illustrated in Appendix 8. These zones are used to control the activities and discharges in the area to protect the aquifer. The adequate and suitable disposal of foul sewage in an area that has a Source Protection Zone (SPZ) designation is not easily achieved or possible, if a connection to the mains public foul sewer is not an acceptable option. The discharge should comply with the Environment Agency’s Policy and Practice for the Protection of Groundwater and EC Groundwater Regulations (Groundwater Directive 80/68/EEC).


The installation or improvement of appropriate infrastructure may enable the lack of a suitable facility to be overcome. Capital programmes of the utility companies may not be capable of bringing forward schemes within the timescales necessary to meet individual needs and developers may wish to ensure the necessary infrastructure is provided or upgraded through alternative means. There may however be locations where the lack of infrastructure is a permanent constraint upon development. Drainage details will need to be submitted with a planning application where there is uncertainty about the form of drainage available.


The District Council has experienced problems with new developments served by a private sewer which itself connects to an existing private system. These problems have been further compounded where the new sewerage system is not constructed to the standards required by local water companies for formal adoption as public sewers. This has led to a number of maintenance problems, which the District Council wishes to avoid as far as possible in any new development.


If developers do not wish to, or are not able to, connect new foul drainage to a public system planning applications will need to be accompanied by an authoritative study on the integrity of the private sewerage system to which the new development will be connected to. Such a study will need to demonstrate to the District Council that the private sewerage system has the capacity to accommodate the development and is structurally sound.


Whilst the District Council cannot empower the water companies to formally adopt new sewerage systems at the time they are installed it considers that if they are built to the water companies standards it will facilitate their adoption in the future.

Surface Water Drainage 

POLICY QL28 - Surface Water Drainage

Where favourable site conditions exist, all development proposals will be required to incorporate sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) which provide for the use of or disposal of surface water. Where the incorporation of SUDS is not feasible, or in the case of highway drainage where it may not be adopted by the Highway Authority an alternative means of surface water disposal will need to be agreed with the Council. In all instances proposals should aim to avoid increasing the rate of surface water run-off from the development. The reuse and recycling of water within the development will be encouraged.


Reasoned Justification

PPG25 recognises the importance of on-site methods of containing increased run-off from development. This is because impermeable surfaces such as paved areas and roofs increase the quantity and rate of rainfall run-off to watercourses with cumulatively greater risk of flood and contamination. All new developments need to consider the impacts of their proposals on surface water run-off and demonstrate that they are not creating or exacerbating flooding problems.


SUDS are physical structures designed to receive surface water run-off which can usually be incorporated into the planted or paved areas of the development. Techniques include the use of swales, filter strips, infiltration trenches and basins, porous paved surfaces and constructed wetland. The introduction of SUDS can lead to the creation of recreational resources or a wildlife habitats which will benefit the amenity and biodiversity.


The techniques used will depend upon the site size and conditions such as soil type and hydrology and potential pollutants in surface water run-off and may include a range of mechanisms. In all cases, advice should be sought from the Environment Agency as to the appropriateness of the system/s proposed. Where it can be demonstrated that SUDS cannot be incorporated within the development, a suitable alternative will need to be agreed with the Council. Additionally, the Council may also require applicants to enter into a planning obligation to secure the adoption and maintenance of the proposed systems.


The use of SUDS for the drainage of highways will be subject to the approval of the local highway authority. The District Council will encourage the Highway Authority to accept the adoption of SUDS for the drainage of highways in its review of highway design guidance.


The re-use and recycling of water will also be encouraged through the use of water butts, the recycling of waste water for the re-use as ‘grey water’ for washing, W.C. flushing etc and the use of water efficient appliances.

Contaminated Land

POLICY QL29 - Contaminated Land

  1. Proposals for development on land where contamination is known or suspected will only be permitted if appropriate remedial measures are taken to ensure that the site is suitable for the proposed use and that there is no unacceptable risk of pollution on the site or being caused to the surrounding area or to the water environment.
  2. Planning conditions or obligations will be imposed to ensure that the remediation works are carried out and where relevant, require notification of any significant unsuspected contamination encountered during development.

Reasoned Justification

The main thrust of Government and Worcestershire County Structure Plan policy is that new development should be directed towards development opportunities on previously developed land (i.e. brownfield land). The development strategy which underpins the Local Plan promotes a number of such sites within Malvern town. Inevitably some of these sites may have a degree of contamination arising from the existing or previous use.


Although contaminated land is regulated by pollution control legislation, existing or potential contamination of land is a material consideration in the determination of planning applications. The regulatory framework for the identification and remediation of contaminated land is contained in Part 11A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.


Government planning policy is set out in PPG23 Planning & Pollution Control in which it states that development plan policies should take into account the issues surrounding contaminated land. The advice refers to the “suitable for use” principle. The emphasis is on protecting health, protecting the environment and minimising pressure on the development of greenfield sites.


In cases where it is suspected that a site may be contaminated it is the responsibility of the developer to ensure that a thorough investigation of the site is carried out. In most cases an assessment of contamination will need to be carried out prior to the grant of planning permission. The investigation will need to determine the type and extent of contamination and assess the risk that the contamination poses to the environment and health. In addition the developer will need to satisfy the District Council that appropriate remedial action can and will be taken to ensure that the site is made safe for the intended use.

Renewable Energy

POLICY QL30 - Renewable Energy

In considering development proposals for the generation of energy from renewable sources, the District Council will balance the advantages of such renewable energy generation against its impact on the local environment. Such development will be permitted where:-

  1. the proposal, including any associated transmission lines, ancillary plant and buildings and access roads are sited to minimise impact on the landscape and have no significantly adverse effect on the character and surroundings of a settlement, nature conservation interests or any heritage designations; and
  2. in the case of wind turbines and other renewable energy projects or installations, provision is made for the removal of the facilities and the reinstatement of the site should it cease to be operational for any reason.

Reasoned Justification

Renewable energy is defined as those energy flows that occur naturally and repeatedly in the environment. This includes energy from the sun, the wind and water as well as plant material, wood and combustible or digestible industrial, agricultural or domestic waste materials.


Renewable energy is likely to make a considerable contribution towards the Government’s aims of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050, with real progress by 2020, and to maintain reliable and competitive energy supplies. The Government has also set a target to generate 10% of UK electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010.


Policy QL 30 does not identify any specific locations or geographic criteria for the location of renewable energy proposals as resources can only be developed where the opportunity exists and where it is economically feasible. However, the policy does highlight sensitivity of the District’s landscape with respect to such proposals and in particular protected landscape areas.


The District Council will consider positively proposals, which contribute to national and regional targets for renewable energy provision and will have regard to the likelihood of technological advances, which may improve the efficiency and reduce the impact of associated development.


Planning Policy Guidance Note 22 - Renewable Energy, together with technical annexes (replaced by PPS22) sets out the ways in which the Government aims to stimulate the development and use of renewable energy resources where they have prospects of being economically viable and environmentally acceptable. Regard should also be had to Countryside Agency guidance that is being prepared for renewable technologies.


Local Authorities are required to consider the contribution that their area can make to local,regional and national needs for renewable energy. However, the benefits from this type of development must be balanced against the need to assess the impact upon the landscape and local amenity. Development proposals should demonstrate any environmental, economic and social benefits as well as how any environmental and social impacts have been minimised through careful consideration of location, scale, design and other measures.


An assessment of the deliverable renewable energy resources for the West Midlands Region has been published by the GOWM - "Renewable Energy Prospects for the West Midlands”. The District possesses significant areas of high ground that may be particularly suitable for harnessing wind energy through the use of wind turbines. Scope for this type of development is limited however by the sensitive landscape character of the area and by those areas that have been specifically designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Areas of Great Landscape Value, Conservation Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. In the interests of preserving the character and quality of the landscape the District Council will carefully scrutinise all proposals for wind turbines within the Area of Outstanding Beauty and the Area of Great Landscape Value. An all embracing character approach to landscape is being developed through the Worcestershire Landscape Character Assessment SPG which will subsequently supersede the AGLV designation (see Policy QL24).


Certain forms of renewable energy facilities, in particular, wind turbines, may affect the amenity of occupiers of adjacent residential properties in terms of noise and interference to television and radio reception. Where the District Council considers that the proposal is likely to have a significant environmental impact, an Environmental Assessment will be required.


There is potential for renewable energy proposals to be located in both urban and rural locations and a need to consider appropriately any potential loss of amenity arising from a proposal. Consequently, proposals will also be subject to other development control criteria established by Local Plan policies and in particular Policy DS3. Wherever possible, priority should be given to the re-use of land or buildings in preference to greenfield land in accordance with Policy DS2.

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Disclaimer: The Proposal Map (including the inset maps) has been produced using the Council's Geographical Information System. The Proposal Map (including the inset maps) represented in the electronic version of the Local Plan is not to scale and should not be interpreted other than at the published scale nor be used for the purposes of measurement. The colours and symbols used may not be an exact interpretation of the published printed version of the Local Plan. In general the printed Local Plan maps take precedence. With respect to Conservation Areas however the printed version may include an inaccurate boundary, as since the adoption of the Local Plan, some Conservation Areas have been reviewed and amended. In theses cases the electronic version should be the correct one. To confirm, please check with the Conservation Officer. The Ordnance Survey mapping included within this web site is provided by Malvern Hills District Council under licence from the Ordnance Survey (0100018590)(2009) in order to fulfill its public function to publicise the Local Plan as the Local Planning Authority.