A COUNCILLOR has secured a rapid promotion to a key role in Worcestershire only 15 months after winning a by-election.

Councillor Melanie Baker, who narrowly won a hotly contested count in Malvern's Chase ward, is now in charge of house building and planning across the district.

It comes after the Conservative, now a part of the Tory-led executive cabinet, overturned a Liberal Democrat majority to secure victory by 82 votes after fierce campaigning.

She has already upped the ante on property building across Worcestershire - saying she aims to protect areas from unsuitable developments.

Cllr Baker will have a major role in the final implementation of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP), a combined blueprint for Wychavon, Worcester and Malvern that has earmarked land for 28,370 new homes by 2030.

The plan has proved controversial as planning inspector Roger Clews has recommended an increase in the number of new homes that must be provided from the original 23,000.

Councillor Baker said a balance had to be struck between providing much needed new homes and protecting communities both in Malvern and across the county.

"Malvern was recently listed the second best place to live in the Midlands, although I happen to think it’s the best in the country," she said. "Yet it still remains one of the most expensive places to buy a home.

"Many residents have expressed concerns that their children and grandchildren have had to move out of the area because they cannot afford to live here.

"That means families lose their all-important support and day-to-day contact.

"This also has a serious knock on effect for staffing a skilled workforce for local businesses.

"We have a very important task ahead of us – to implement the SWDP which will both set out the blueprint for planning for the next decade and give the district councils the power to more easily dismiss developments that are inappropriate for the communities we serve."

She takes over from Councillor Adam Rea, who has stood down due to work commitments.