VILLAGE leaders are demanding a public inquiry into plans to double the size of the University of York campus.

Heslington Parish Council made the call, after 200 residents of Heslington and Badger Hill packed out a meeting at St Paul's Church to sound out views on the proposed 65-hectare Heslington East development.

Heslington Village Trust is backing the council's stance, and notes on the key issues are to be sent to all residents affected by the expansion scheme to the east of the village.

Parish council chairman Richard Frost said: "The way forward for the parish council is clear. We will be encouraging all local residents to make their views known to York city planners by sending in their individual objections and comments. The council will also be challenging the principle of the proposal as well as the detail, and is demanding that this proposal goes to a public inquiry. That is the only way in which the detail of the proposals can be properly examined."

Nick Allen, chairman of Heslington Village Trust, expressed concern that one third of the development could be used for commercial business, on what is designated Green Belt land.

"There are many alternative sites for Science City developments throughout York, including the Terry's factory site or designated land at Monks Cross," he said.

"There are so many problems with these proposals which have not been properly answered that we believe the application must be called in for a public inquiry, and we will be making some very strong objections."

John Meacock, the university's Heslington East project director, said they had anticipated that the proposals were likely to be called in for Government review in light of the draft local plan and the scale of the development.

He added: "There are restrictions in the council's development brief over what commercial activities can take place, and we will be complying fully with that."

The new campus, which will be built around a large lake, will include accommodation for 3,300 students, new academic departments, a performing arts centre and sports facilities, with 25 hectares devoted to Science City York.

It is envisaged that student numbers will rise from just over 10,000 to 15,500 by 2020, with 4,500 new jobs created for the city.

Updated: 08:22 Monday, June 14, 2004