CAMPAIGNERS have been given more time to fight plans to build hundreds of new homes in Milton.
A planning application for the development of the St James’ Hospital site is not expected to be completed for several months.
Landowner NHS Property Services Ltd has discovered it must do a study determining whether an influx of extra residents would affect the nearby shoreline.
The assessment is needed as part of EU environmental rules.
It comes as a relief to ‘Keep Milton Green’ campaigners who feared an application for the first phase of redevelopment – 101 out of a possible 370 family homes – was imminent.
Lib Dem ward councillor Ben Dowling, who is backing the campaign, said: ‘This gives us the breathing space we need to better campaign to keep Milton green.
‘It provides more time for us to get more residents involved and for more people to have their say.’
Nearly 1,000 people have now signed a petition calling for the homes to be shelved.
As reported, the Tory-run council has been blasted for pushing through development as it is considering advertising the hospital site to developers.
Cllr Luke Stubbs, Tory cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development, warned such an environmental survey does not usually identify concerns.
‘It looks like this whole process has been pushed back by several months.’
He added: ‘There are real concerns about wildlife in the area of course and it will be interesting to see what comes back, but these things usually just show a clean bill of health.’
The Tories have repeatedly criticised the former Lib Dem administration for putting them in a difficult position given the site was already given consent for homes in 2006.
The NHS wants to sell off the land in a bid to reduce costs and reinvest money into patient care.
Caroline Welch, a spokeswoman for NHS Property Services Ltd, said: ‘We are continuing to prepare an outline planning application for the development of land and buildings at St James’ Hospital that are becoming surplus to NHS requirements.
‘We have completed a number of surveys, including regarding the ecology of the site.’