Hereford & Worcester

Malvern Hills cable car and beacon-top cafe plan proposed

Artist's impression of proposed cable car on the Malvern Hills Image copyright SEED Technical Services Ltd
Image caption A plan using the same route put forward in 1962 was rejected by the Malvern Hills Conservators in the face of public opposition

Controversial plans for a cable car up the Malvern Hills with a cafe at their highest point have been proposed.

Malvern for All, a not-for-profit company, is proposing building a cable car running from the Rose Bank Gardens in Great Malvern to just below the summit of the Worcestershire Beacon.

The eight mile (13km) hill range is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, protected by an act of Parliament.

The Malvern Hills Conservators will consider the plans on Thursday.

The conservators were established under the Malvern Hills Act in 1884 and manage over 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of land on the hills and commons in and around the town.

Image copyright SEED Technical Services Ltd
Image caption The cable cars and pylons would be coloured to minimise their visual impact, according to the plan
Image copyright SEED Technical Services Ltd
Image caption The top station would include a restaurant, toilets and a first aid post

Roger Sutton, from Malvern for All, said it plans to use a park and ride system to ferry visitors to the cable car.

"We have done our sums on the extra money the visitors would bring into the town and we reckon it's worth £1.5m to local shopkeepers," he said.

The Mayor of Malvern, Julian Roskams, believes a cable car would "spoil the hills".

"The idea of bringing an extra half a million visitors into the town with an already creaking infrastructure I don't think really adds up," he said.

Malvern Hills Conservators said more than 70 people had contacted their office about the plan, with all but two voicing "very strong opposition".

Director Stephen Bound said comments had come in "thick and fast" both from people born in Malvern and those who have moved there largely because of the beauty of the hills.

"Both groups are incredibly concerned about the impact that buildings and pylons will have on this special landscape and on the sense of wilderness that they value so highly," he said.

Image copyright SEED Technical Services Ltd
Image caption The base station would be next to the Rose Bank Gardens in Great Malvern

Mr Roskams fears the plans would "damage the delicate ecology" of the hills.

Malvern for All said it has consulted with a firm who carried out an environmental impact survey for developments around Stonehenge to ensure the the plans would not harm the environment.

At 1,394ft (425m), the Worcestershire Beacon is the highest point on the hills which lie on the border between Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

The planned station just below the summit would include a restaurant, first aid post and toilets.

A proposal for a cable car using the same route was rejected by the Conservators in 1962 due to public opposition.

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