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VIVISECTION PLANNING VICTORY
Posted 1 March 2001
Plans for a large extension to the animal research facility operated by Cambridge University at Girton, north of the City, suffered a major blow when permission was refused by South Cambridgeshire District Council on 3 January 2001.
The University proposed to build an extra 130,000 square feet of floorspace in the Cambridge Green Belt, a size that equates to two superstores. The Council's Planning Officer had recommended that approval could be given provided that the Department of Trade and Industry supported the scheme on the basis of its national importance. But the Planning Committee rejected this advice and refused the application outright.
Many Animal Aid supporters contributed to the 180 letters of objection sent to the Council. Campaigners on the ground - led by Cambridge Animal Rights and Cambridge Animal Aid - also played a big part, ensuring that the issue obtained maximum regional publicity.
But perhaps the most significant factor was Animal Aid's decision to commission Council Member, Anthony Keen, a town planning consultant, to put forward a case against the scheme. Anthony's first class report stressed the conflict with Green Belt policy, the potential harm to public health arising from hazardous substances and organisms used in the research, and the local disturbance to amenity and traffic safety caused by continued demonstrations at the site.
The Planning Committee members made it plain that they agreed with many of these objections and they voted unanimously to refuse planning permission.
The University has the right to appeal to the Secretary of State for the Environment, a move that would result in a public inquiry. The proposals would then be subject to detailed scrutiny by an independent inspector, giving objectors further opportunity to present their case.