Ambitious five year plan unveiled

Delivering more affordable homes, supporting business to grow and helping residents get more active are just some of the aims included in an ambitious new five year plan unveiled by Malvern Hills District Council.

The plan sets out three core priorities which will guide the focus of the council’s work up until 2021. They are to build stronger and healthier communities, drive economic growth and prosperity and make the most of the district’s superb environment.

There are almost 30 aims included in the plan to be completed over the next five years. Under building stronger and healthier communities, highlights include delivering more affordable homes and bringing a number of empty homes back into use to help tackle the national housing shortage in the district. There is also a target to encourage less active people to become involved in physical activity and to deliver at least ten sport and health related activities in rural areas every year.

On the economy, the plan includes targets to support at least 300 businesses to survive or grow through start-up and expansion schemes and to make land available to create more than 200 jobs at Malvern Hills Science Park by 2021. Creating at least 50 new apprenticeships a year to help young people find jobs and lobbying to secure funding for a new Carrington Bridge and road improvements through to the Powick roundabout are also included.

The final priority includes projects to invest up to £10million in new open space, play areas and playing pitches across the district, improving the marketing of the district to visitors and creating an early flood warning system in the most at risk areas.

The five year plan will be considered by councillors at an Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday (26 January) along with the new Business Plan. This sets out how the money will be found to meet the £1.8million funding gap the council faces by 2018/19 while supporting the aims in the five year plan.

The focus will be on a continued drive on efficiency with measures including bringing all council staff into one building and reviewing and transforming the way services are run, including exploring using a private company to provide waste and recycling services.

Growing income through the sale of council owned buildings and other assets, selling council services such as contract management and financial services to other local authorities and sharing services with Wychavon are other key parts of the plan.

Cllr Phil Grove, Leader of Malvern Hills District Council, said: “We’ve already saved some £3.3million since 2010/11, and just 1.5 per cent of that has come from service reductions, so I’m confident we can meet the unprecedented financial challenge facing us.

“It will require us to be innovative though, as a lot of the easier savings have already been made, but we’re taking a positive approach.

“There will be difficult decisions along the way. But what our five year plan and our Business Plan demonstrates is we’re determined to go on delivering for our residents and making Malvern Hills District an even better place to live, work and visit.”

Both plans will be reviewed annually and subject to final approval by Council in February.