A COMMUNITY is divided over Chester University plans developed in response to claims students are ‘swamping’ the surrounding area.
The university has already bought land to the north of its campus between Parkgate Road and the Deva Link Road, with a view to building a student village.
Some locals believe it could offer respite from the ‘studentification’ of their community while others are set against it.
But everyone is both puzzled and concerned the development would be in a flood plain.
Valerie Smith and Edna Speed MBE are among concerned Parkgate Road residents worried about the impact on the flood plain, the Green Belt and wildlife as well as the extra traffic.
In a letter to the university, they wrote: “The proposed site, as you are aware, is within one mile of the city centre and has never been built upon. Due to its prime location we should work together, and work hard, to preserve the heritage and infrastructure of our city.”
Meanwhile, the Canal Basin Forum has declared its support for the project, joining forces with the Garden Quarter Association.
Forum secretary Avril Coady says studentification has reached “a tipping-point” but does not give unqualified support for the scheme because it would be in a flood plain.
She said: “In principle, I am in favour of a student village but I realised immediately there will have to be an engineering solution that would cost millions and where would that come from?”
The university acknowledges a steady rise in the popularity of the university has led to an increased demand for student accommodation in the city, which is “unsustainable”.
Professor Tim Wheeler, its vice chancellor, said: “Opportunities to live on a land-locked campus are limited and the university is sensitive to the fact that the concentration of students living nearby on a temporary basis creates an imbalance in the resident population and affects its sense of community.”
Prof Wheeler adds that the development would “regenerate” land at a key gateway into the city.
Engineers have been on site, using drilling equipment to take soil and rock samples.
The vice chancellor said the idea was provide self-contained student accommodation but it was premature to discuss any firm proposals at this stage.