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Government will rule on Askham Bryan College expansion
THE Government will have the final say on a York college’s £34 million expansion plans if councillors back the scheme.
City of York Council planning officials have said proposals for Askham Bryan College’s three-stage development – the biggest in its history – should be approved because there is no other suitable site for the new facilities.
The expansion would create 120 jobs and see almost 1,600 extra students based there by 2017/18.
Much of the proposed development has been classed as “inappropriate” for the campus’ green belt location.
But a report going before the council’s planning committee next week said there were “special circumstances” for allowing the expansion because it needed to be close to the existing college.
It includes a purpose-built animal management centre and an international-standard equine centre.
The college, specialising in agriculture and land management courses, also plans to build a polo field, new teaching areas, a 300-student accommodation block and a glass roof over the campus’ quad, as well as improving its farm buildings and wildlife park.
If approved in principle by the council, the green belt issue means the application would be referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, for a final decision.
The council’s flood risk and public rights of way departments have objected to the plans, but only one member of the public has lodged an objection to the revised scheme, although six public objections were lodged to the original plans. Askham Bryan Parish Council has supported the scheme as long as measures are included to control local traffic.
York Natural Environment Panel said the “significant size” of the new buildings meant landscaping works should be carried out to reduce their impact.
In a written report, planning officer Victoria Bell said: “The proposed facilities are required for the college to expand, compete and improve existing courses – they are required in proximity to the current campus and cannot reasonably be sited elsewhere.”
If approved, the scheme’s first phase, costing £6 million, would see the animal management centre built with the aim of opening it next September. This would be followed by a £9.5 million stage including the equine centre, quad roof and farm improvements. The expansion would see student numbers rise to about 4,500.
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