THE fallout over the crunch Chester student village vote continues with one supporter blaming “intellectual pygmies” for the controversial scheme being thrown out.
Bell Developments wanted to build the 2,300-bed village on greenbelt land between Blacon and Mollington but the plans were refused at Chester Town Hall last week.
Councillors overwhelmingly rejected the application in a special full council meeting with 51 voting against, three abstening and just one in favour.
Council leader Mike Jones did not take part in the vote due to his friendship with the applicants but faces increasing pressure to resign because he supported the application.
Developers and student village supporters were shocked when the landslide named vote was taken having been confident the application, which had previously been turned down, would succeed this time around.
Reg Barritt, secretary of Handbridge Residents Council, believes the scheme would have solved ‘studentification’ problems in areas including Handbridge and the Garden Quarter.
He said: “We’ve missed such a magnificent chance here and there are a lot of angry people in the city.”
Mr Barritt described the special full council meeting as an “abomination” and said the format was confusing and unfair.
He said: “Councillors were given far too much time and there was no balance. The fundamentals of what we wanted to say were not said and nobody was admitting there is no policy for student housing in Chester.
“The meeting was about trying to protect the reputation of the planning officers and this issue hasn’t been handled properly.
“The case against the development wasn’t based on factual evidence and it was almost as if they set it up to fail.”
Mr Barritt said he and Cllr Jones did not always see eye-to-eye but he had sympathy for the leader of the Tory-run council.
He said: “He has been bang to rights in all of this.
“He did the right thing and didn't involve himself in the meeting or the vote. He kept completely properly out of it.”
Andrew Miller, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, told BBC TV show Sunday Politics North West he believed Cllr Jones should resign as council leader.
Cllr Jones has come under fire for replacing the Cllr Myles Hogg as chair of the planning committee which turned down the previous application and for removing the whip from four Tories who backed the motion.