Plans for the Heslington East campus development have been heavily criticised by the environmental group Campaign to Protect Rural England.
The group, who aim to protect British greenfield sites, are worried about the potential impact of the build on the local environment. The charity claim that the development will destroy 289 acres of green belt land making it one of top 12 most harmful developments in the country in terms of size.
The greenfield site chosen was intended to prevent urban areas from merging, and while CPRE say they know they cannot prevent the development from going ahead, they hope to draw attention to the government’s policy towards green belt land which, they say, is worryingly indifferent.
The extension to the current campus was approved by ministers last year and the University has emphasised that it will be as green as possible with gardens and wetlands incorporated into the design and close to 40,000 trees due to be planted.
The University aims to be able to accommodate as many as 16,500 students by 2020. Supporters of the expansion arguethat the estimated 8,000 jobs the expansion will create will benefit the local economy.