PLANS for new housing on the edge of Malvern would be a "Trojan horse" for development between the town and Leigh Sinton, said councillors.

The scheme, by developer Taylor Wimpey Midlands to build 55 houses on a field off Eastward Road, was thrown out this week by Malvern Hills District Council.

At Wednesday's meeting of the southern area development control committee, planning officers had recommended approval.

They said that because the site was more that 1,600 metres from the nearest part of Leigh Sinton, it could be developed without harming the "significant gap" between the two settlements.

But cllr Clive Smith moved refusal, saying: "This is a Trojan Horse application. If we approved it, we will be opening the door to developers wanting to build on any land around here which is more than 1,600 metres from Leigh Sinton."

And cllr Paul Tuthill said: "If we approve this, it could lead to a series of cumulative approvals, causing serious erosion of the significant gap. The significant gap should be defended."

Other concerns also included more traffic on local roads and more people using the foot crossing over the nearby railway.

Cllr Mike Soley, who lives across the railway from the application site, said: "I've lived in this location for 25 years, and in that time there have been three deaths on that crossing."

Because of his homes's proximity to the site, cllr Soley was asked if he had an interest he should declare, but he decided he did not.

The proposal, which had been been strongly opposed by local residents, was not the first for the site; an earlier application was thrown out by the council last May.

Richard Bradford, who chairs the local residents' group, said after the meeting: "The decision is a good result for Malvern and the characteristic green spaces around it. Taylor Wimpey have now had two bites at this so I hope they will decide not to appeal."

At the time of going to press, Taylor Wimpey had not responded to a request for a comment .