£14m college campus is dealt a major blow
EAST Riding College's plans to open a £14m new campus in Beverley next year have been dealt a major blow after housing plans were rejected for its existing site.
The college needs to sell off its site in Gallows Lane to help pay for a new campus at Flemingate.
But East Riding Council has thrown out housing plans for the nine-acre site, which borders Beverley Westwood.
The 36-home plan was rejected because the access is single-track and there would be no on-site affordable housing.
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Ex-mayor Councillor Bryan Pearson, who urged the planning committee to refuse the plans, insists the college only has itself to blame.
He told the Mail: "These plans have been on the table for yonks. The college should have come up with something better than this.
"They had the chance to put forward a good plan and they didn't – if that has jeopardised their opening time for the new college, that's their fault.
"I am certainly saddened by this. I want the new college to open, I applaud that but they need to get their act together."
Cllr Pearson insisted the existing single-track access at Gallows Lane was not good enough and needed to be widened.
He also objected to the college's plan to hand over funds to the council for social housing elsewhere, provided there were sufficient funds from the sale.
He said: "They are supposed to provide 25 per cent affordable housing. I wanted a promise it would be on that site."
East Riding College, which had hoped to start building work on its new campus this spring, could now lose time-limited grant aid for the development.
The college, which has been planning a new campus for eight years, has grants lined up including £2m from the Skills Funding Agency and £1.3m European funding.
College leaders have admitted a September 2014 opening is unlikely and they are now considering their options.
This could include submitting new plans or appealing against refusal – both of which could take months.
Principal Derek Branton said: "Our task now is to look at how we can ensure this £14m investment in education in Beverley – which includes £3.3m of time-limited grant funding – can go ahead, although it will now be difficult to achieve our preferred opening date of September 2014."
Mr Branton defended the housing plans, which he insisted would cut traffic congestion.
He said: "We remain confident our proposal would vastly reduce traffic movements in Gallows Lane and a study submitted with our application showed the peak morning hourly rate would reduce from the current 178 vehicle movements per hour to around 20.
"We have an agreement in place with the council for it to recover the affordable housing requirement from the proceeds of the sale of the site above the figure which makes relocation viable."
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock, who visited the college this month, hailed the "impressive" new campus plans as an important boost for the town.