A CONTROVERSIAL application to transform the University of Law (ULaw) site in Chester into a housing development has been rejected.

ULaw had requested permission to demolish a number of the 20th century buildings on its Christleton campus and construct 27 new dwellings.

It also proposed to convert the Grade II listed, 18th century Christleton Hall into 14 apartments.

The plans had been recommended for approval by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning team.

But they were rejected by 10 votes to one on Tuesday (April 10) by members of the planning committee who decided the development would impact on the open Green Belt setting.

Cllr Jill Houlbrook said: “This is entirely the wrong development in entirely the wrong place.”

The news will be welcomed by the 100 plus people who lodged objections to the application.

However it will be a blow to ULaw which hoped to use the cash generated from the scheme to set up shop on the ground and fifth floors of the new One City Place office block near Chester railway station.

Bosses say there is no longer any need for the campus on Pepper Street, Christleton, as the majority of courses are now delivered online or on a part-time basis.

Residents had objected on a number of grounds, including traffic congestion, pollution and impact on local infrastructure.

Christleton Parish Council was also against the plans, saying the applicant has not demonstrated that there is no alternative educational or employment use for the site.

With its proposed larger dwellings, the application does not meet the housing needs of Christleton, the parish council claims.

However, CWaC also received 10 letters from people supporting the plan. They said there would be a good mix of dwellings with little visual impact.

In her report to the committee, planning officer Jill Stephens wrote: “The development would represent development of a brownfield site and would therefore not amount to inappropriate development in the Green Belt. It is considered that the development would respect the character of the street scene and local area as well as maintaining and enhancing the heritage assets, namely Christleton Hall.

“It is also considered that the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on residents’ health or quality of life, having particular regard to residential amenity, and would have no unacceptable impact in respect of highway safety, could safeguard ecology and could provide suitable drainage provision.”

* It is not yet known if ULaw plans to appeal against the committee's decision.