Queens’ College has appealed the refusal of its plans to build new student accommodation in Cambridge.
The college put forward proposals to build four new housing blocks in Owlstone Close, creating 60 rooms for postgraduate students.
More than 140 people objected to the plans, with many raising concerns about the impact of the development on the neighbouring Paradise Nature Reserve.
While officers had recommended the plans for approval, Cambridge City Council’s planning committee unanimously refused in January after hearing concerns that the development would be a “blight” on the neighbourhood.
Appealing to the Planning Inspectorate, the college said the development would be “high quality, highly sustainable, landscape led, well-designed and well-considered”.
It said: “The provision of purpose-built student accommodation contributes to the city’s supply of housing and means the college can reduce its reliance on the private rented sector, releasing such housing back on to the open market.
“Although the site itself is largely free from constraints, the college and design team were fully aware of the sensitivities of the surrounding area, and particularly the adjacent local nature reserve, from the outset.
“Ecological surveys, including of the use of the site by bats and the impact particularly of lighting upon them were carried out, expanded upon and developed in consultation with officers.
“The result of this iterative design process was to reduce light levels around the perimeter of the site to avoid harm to the possibly lone (or certainly low numbers) of light-sensitive barbastelle bats which have been recorded as flying over or close to the site.”
The college said there would be a 50 per cent biodiversity net gain on the site and it will remove buildings “considered to contribute negatively to the character and appearance of the conservation area”.
The community group Friends of Paradise Nature Reserve, which opposed the university development, has started fundraising to fight the appeal.
The group said it will need to fund more reports from consultants on bats, light and drainage, which they predicted would be a “huge expense”.
In a message to supporters, it said: “Last year your generous donations meant that we were able to support our objections with expert lawyers and consultants, and we would not have been successful without this financial support, together with your letters and attendance at the hearing.”
An inquiry into the appeal is due to be held later this year, after which a planning inspector will determine whether to allow the development or not.
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