A SUPPORTER of the student village has described calls for the full council to decide whether or not the scheme goes ahead as ‘unfair and unacceptable’.
Reg Barritt, secretary of Handbridge Residents Council, backs the proposed 2,300-bed village and Sir Steve Redgrave-backed sports institute.
Bell Developments want to build the huge scheme – which has already been turned down once – on greenbelt land between Blacon and Mollington.
Five councillors now want all 72 members of Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) to be allowed to decide whether planning consent should be granted.
Former teacher Mr Barritt believes the scheme would solve ‘studentification’ problems in areas including Handbridge and the Garden Quarter.
He said it was wrong the student village could be decided by the full council while other student housing schemes were dealt with through the normal process.
Mr Barritt said: “The latest attempt by the opposition to delay judgment at planning of the student village proposal while other disputed inner city ‘pepper-potting’ applications proceed is utterly unfair and totally unacceptable – as well as being impractical.”
Strategic planning committee members turned the plans down first time around and are due to consider the second application on September 19.
Cllr Myles Hogg – who voted against the scheme – was then removed from his post as committee chair and replaced with Cllr Howard Greenwood, who voted in favour.
That decision has overshadowed the planning process and the five councillors believe the extraordinary nature of the application means the full council vote is merited.
But Mr Barritt, of Hartington Street, said: “Cllr Hogg, whom these student village opponents now seem to venerate, has no more of a case to be chairing that committee in dealing with this issue than does Cllr Greenwood. I don’t doubt the integrity of either.
“It’s obvious from their record that either, along with their colleagues, can give the matter a fair hearing and proper judgement when the application is heard.”
As well as solving the perceived ‘studentification’ problems, supporters claim the economic benefits would be huge.
But opponents argue the village is not needed and would obliterate the city skyline.
Planning chiefs originally threw out the £100m scheme in January but brothers Mike and Dave Bell vowed to battle on and resubmitted the application in May.
CWaC confirmed the request for the full council to decide the student village application would be considered during the special council meeting on September 10.
Should the council back the request, another meeting would be needed to consider the planning application.
If that meeting was after September 19, the strategic planning committee could still make a recommendation but could not make a decision.
Should the student village application gain permission, it would still have go to the Secretary of State for final approval because of the special protection around the green belt.