PLANS for a York college to build a “high welfare beef farm” – housing 130 cattle – are set to be approved.

Askham Bryan College plans to build a shed for 50 calves and a grower building for 80 cattle, as well as a single-storey teaching block. The buildings are planned for land on the west side of the college site, which is in green belt land.

The college was awarded £1.7m of funding from the Department of Education and is putting the cash towards the project.

Students will learn about calf rearing, new technologies used in the cattle industry and beef finishing – techniques to fatten cattle up in preparation for slaughter.

The planning application says the buildings need to sit on grazing land to give the animals access to outdoor space.

The college already has a dairy unit and heifer shed close to the site of the proposed buildings.

Planning officers at City of York Council say there are “very special circumstances” which mean the application should be approved despite being in the green belt – but have recommended it is sent to the Secretary of State for a decision because the buildings have a large floorspace.

A report for the council’s planning committee says the project “would have a harmful effect on the openness of the Green Belt” but that this is outweighed by the benefits for education and the economy.

It adds: “The new facility is required to ensure the students are taught using the latest technologies, thus producing an increasing number of skilled technically qualified graduates.

“Askham Bryan College already offers courses in the rearing of beef.”

“The proposed development would therefore provide facilities for a larger herd of cattle and also to create agricultural buildings that can accommodate new farming technology in order to expand the quality and variety of educational opportunities offered by the college.

“Although the development is part of an educational establishment, it is agricultural in appearance and use and the further investment helps to secure the long-term future as an educational and employment centre. The proposal is unlikely to set a precedent for other development within the Green Belt.”