BACKERS behind the rejected student village scheme could resubmit the planning application to Cheshire West and Chester Council given the narrowness of their defeat.

Bell Developments’ plans for a 2,300-bed student village and Steve Redgrave sports facilities on green belt land between Blacon and Mollington were kicked out by the strategic planning committee by five votes to four.

Councillors supported planning officer Mark Lynch’s view the scheme had failed to prove the ‘very special circumstances’ needed to allow the development as an exception to green belt policy.

Bell has indicated it will appeal to the Secretary of State over the decision but could simultaneously resubmit the planning application free of charge providing this is done within 12 months.

Another option is for Bell to await the outcome of the Local Development Framework process which is considering whether green belt land should be released for development.

Bell spokesman Stephen Wundke said: “The applicants will be appealing the decision and are considering the options available to them.”

Tory councillor Brian Crowe (Saughall and Mollington) welcomed the council’s decision to reject the scheme.

He said: “I am pleased and the communities of Blacon and Mollington are relieved but we have got to remain vigilant. We all realise there is an appeal coming.

“An appeal with deal with the facts and take the emotion out of it. Based on the facts, I don’t think they will have a case.”

Friends of North Chester Greenbelt spokesman Andy Scargill endorsed the council decision but added: “We will not sit back since we expect the applicants to appeal and we know that we may well have to fight our corner again in the future.”