OPPONENTS of the controversial student village scheme have dismissed a report which said there was “clear demand” for the planned Sir Steve Redgrave sports institute.
The five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve wants to bring his institute to Chester but has warned it must be built as part of Bell Developments’ 2,300-bed student village.
His team commissioned independent body Sport Cheshire to assess the demand and potential value of the facility in terms of sports participation.
Sport Cheshire found despite “considerable competition” there was “clear demand” for the Redgrave Institute.
But those opposed to the massive scheme – which would be built on greenbelt land between Blacon and Mollington – remain unconvinced.
Cllr Carolyn Graham, who represents Blacon, said: “It is hardly surprising that Sport Cheshire is so supportive of the Redgrave Institute when you consider that the institute actually commissioned this report.”
Cllr Graham also has concerns over the involvement of Sport Cheshire as the council has commissioned them to undertake a separate report on sports facilities across the borough.
Sir Steve insists that without the student village the sports institute would not be viable.
He maintains his institute would provide world-class sporting facilities for students and the wider community.
But Cllr Graham said: “I would love to believe that any new development would benefit residents in Blacon. However, the detail of how this would be achieved, apart from those who could afford to pay the membership charges of £19.99 per person per month, have never been shared.
“These costs are clearly prohibitive for a large number of residents.”
Planning chiefs threw the student village application out in January, although Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) said it supported the idea of the Redgrave Institute coming to the city but wanted to look for an alternative site.
Bell Developments has now resubmitted the student village application and the scheme is due to go back before planners next month.
Sir Steve said the scheme was “all about children” and would help young people in the Chester area fulfil their potential.
But Cllr Graham – whose views are supported by campaign group The Friends of North Chester Greenbelt – does not believe this to be the case.
She said: “I share Sir Steve’s aspirations for the children and young people in the borough. Unfortunately, I don’t share his sentiment that the student village and institute is all about children – being brutally honest, it is all about money.
“If Sir Steve really would like to help the residents of Blacon then perhaps he would consider backing away from this unsustainable development and locating his Institute on a more appropriate site.”