PLANS to turn a former top secret underground military complex into a wine storage facility will be decided next week.

London City Bond (LCB) wants to develop the historic Drakelow Tunnels beneath Kingsford Country Park into a warehouse and distribution centre for 10,000 tonnes of wine - creating 40 full-time jobs in the area.

The tunnel network was built in the early 1940s as a shadow factory for the Rover car company, later forming part of a national network of highly classified nuclear bunkers.

In recent years, the tunnels have welcomed members of the public for regular open days and paranormal tours, which would be stopped altogether if plans went ahead.

Residents have raised concerns about the loss of public access to the site and the impact of the wine lorries on rural roads.

LCB later reduced the number of delivery vehicles from five to three per working day, and said the development would "ensure the historic tunnels will be properly maintained".

The company has since altered the plans further to provide a public museum within part of the tunnels which would operate at weekends.

The proposed number of car parking spaces has also been reduced from 45 to 22 in response to concerns raised by planning officers.

Wyre Forest District Council planners have recommended the proposal for delegated approval, despite objections from the local parish council, highway authority and 39 residents.

Ledbury Reporter:

Delegated approval would give the relevant officer the power to approve plans without the committee's consent.

The planning officer wrote in a report: "I have balanced all issues and have concluded that there are economic and social benefits associated with the proposed development in terms of the creation of 40 new local job opportunities and the provision of a museum, which would outweigh any harm associated with the unsustainable location of the site."

A decision is set to made on Tuesday evening (September 17).