City of York Council and the University have been accused of breaking government guidelines in a desperate bid to keep the Heslington East project alive.
Heslington and Fulford Parish Councils have condemned the two organizations for colluding together and attempting to “circumvent the planning process.”
Stephen Kenwright, Chairman of Fulford Parish, slammed the Heslington East scheme as “an environmental disaster.” He said city planners were setting a “dangerous precedent” by ignoring current government guidelines on Green Belt construction projects. “The expansion is about increasing the University’s market share,” he remarked. “It is not clear that it will even benefit the University itself in terms of the student body or current staff, who are concerned about the plans, job competition and yet more disruption.”
The objections have been made in the wake of the City Council’s recent planning brief. In a written response, Richard Frost, Chairman of Heslington Parish Council, said: “it is of great concern that this document reads as if it had been largely prepared by the University, not CYC.” The brief, which should have been written by the Council, includes a section that “is essentially a sales pitch for the expansion of the University. It is out of place here, particularly as CYC clearly states that this document does not address the principle of whether the site should be developed at all.”
However, Frost rejected suggestions of nimbyism. “We don’t feel that the alternatives have been adequately pursued.” “When you add Campus 3, our concern is that the University will swamp Heslington village. There’s a danger of destroying the good relationship we have.” He said the lifestyles of students and locals had “different time-scales,” creating potential grievances over noise, which are already an issue around Halifax College.
Heslington Parish Council has submitted a 24-page dossier detailing their concerns with the proposals to the City Council. Local MP John Grogan chaired a meeting with the councils and planners in January, at which the issue was debated.