PLANS for a new housing development in Malvern have been met with fierce opposition by the civic society, which says the scheme would prevent the creation of a town square.

Elevate Property Group wants to demolish four buildings at the back of the Foley Arms in Worcester Road, next to Edith Walk, and replace them with 11 houses, six flats and three commercial units.

The Malvern Civic Society said that if this development goes ahead it would scupper long-held goals of building 'Elgar Square' in the town.

A Civic Society spokesman said: “For the past two years the Society, aware that the Foley Arms car park is a prime development site, have been promoting a town square concept. One of our members, Philip Duckworth, was a senior Birmingham architect and drew up details plans of the concept.

"We did a presentation to Simon Smith (Economic Development Manager at Malvern Hills District Council) 18 months ago. It would appear that the council has not taken any notice of our proposals."

On the Elevate plans, the Civic Society spokesman had the following criticism: "Listed buildings would be removed; mature trees would be cut down; there is no provision for affordable housing and there is no apparent benefit to the town.”

In planning documents submitted as part of the application, Elevate Property Group said the development would include 30 per cent affordable housing, contrary to what the Civic Society claims.

The heritage statement submitted with the plans says there are “no overriding heritage constraints that would preclude the proposed development. The anticipated less than substantial harm to the heritage significance of the identified assets would, however, have to be weighed against the public benefits of the scheme.”

The Foley Arms Hotel is not included in the plans and will remain open.

In its submission, Malvern Town Council said it supports the application but has concerns over how the additional traffic generated by the development will impact on the safety of pedestrians.

Until recently, Edith Walk was a lane running parallel with Church Street and linking up with Back Lane, which runs parallel with Graham Road. It provided a back entrance to the gardens of the houses in Church Street which were converted into shops in Victorian times and the entrance to the Foley Arms car park, which was originally a stable block, carriage house and staff accommodation. The area to the east of the Foley Arms Hotel car park was also used for a weekly market.

The use of the area changed in the 1990s with the building of the Somerfields [now Wilko] shop and associated car park and, in 1999, the opening of the Waitrose store with the changes to the road pattern off Graham Road and the introduction of traffic lights.

In 2010 the Foley Arms Hotel was sold to Wetherspoons but the car park was kept in private ownership.

In 2014 Travelodge put forward plans for a 40-bedroom hotel with adjacent apartments, four shops and some parking spaces.

Although the proposal was considered by the District Council, it did not proceed, partly because the plan was considered to be over-development and partly because of the financial problems with the company at the time.

Malvern Hills District Council's planning committee will have the final say on whether to approve or refuse the application.