NINETY new homes could be built on the site of the former poultry research station, Houghton Grange, on the outskirts of St Ives, if councillors grant outline planning consent tonight.

A previous planning consent lapsed, but now the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is asking Huntingdonshire District Council's development management panel to agree in principle to residential development with an access road, open space, a balancing pond and demolition of the existing utilitarian buildings on the 11-hectare site.

Although the land is actually in the parish of Houghton and Wyton, the parish council has declined to offer a view on the application while it is in the process of seeking judicial review of HDC's plans to earmark nearby land for 500 further homes.

The parish, which fears HDC's plans for what it calls 'St Ives West', even though most of the land involved is in Houghton, will lead to continuous housing along the A1123 between Needingworth Road, St Ives, and Banks End in Wyton, says the district has acted unlawfully.

The buildings the applicant plans to keep include the Grade II-listed Grange that was built in 1897 for Charles Harold Coote, who was Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire in 1902, and is on HDC's 'at risk register' but will be restored as part of the development.

Others to be retained are Dormy House, two Grade II-listed lodge houses, a pair of recent link-detached house and a bungalow.

The grand tree avenue - many of the trees in the grounds are already protected by a tree preservation order - will also be retained.

A new pedestrian link to The Thicket footpath is also proposed.

Planners are recommending approval subject to satisfactory conclusion of an agreement that the developers contribute towards affordable housing, leisure facilities, libraries, education and health provision and improvement of the Thicket footpath.