BATH University looks set to abandon plans for its controv-ersial new campus at Coate Water but developers say they will push on with the project.

In a move that has been warmly welcomed by Coate campaigners, the university senate yesterday voted to suspend plans to build the campus in woodland near the popular waterhole.

Citing issues with the amount of land allowed them by develop-ers and fears that Government higher education funding was moving away from new campuses towards extending existing colleges, the university said it had no choice but end plans to come to Coate.

But a spokesman for develop-ers Persimmon and Redrow said they had not abandoned plans for Coate.

They are expected to brief town business and education leaders at a breakfast meeting today at the Marriott Hotel from 8am.

The spokesman said that the consortium was waiting for the University of Bath to confirm it was pulling out of Coate at its full council meeting on March 1 but had received expressions of interest in any new campus from other universities.

The final decision on the University of Bath's involvement is to go to the university's council on March 1.

University vice-chancellor Glynis Breakwell said a lack of space from the developers and a change in Government funding priorities had forced the move to abandon the whole Gateway project.

"Universities are being encouraged to adopt radical new approaches to undergraduate education," she said.

"Our vision for Gateway was of a traditional campus which would fill the provision gap that exists in Swindon and Wiltshire.

"We now think that a new campus of this nature would not fit the Government's expansion priorities and there may be other ways to do the job.

"In addition, locally, the revised masterplan for the Gateway site, presented to us by the developers Persimmon and Redrow last November, requires a density of development that it is inconsistent with our original campus model."

The university had been allowed 150 acres at the site, but only 45 per cent of that was useful land.

That would force the university to build a campus that was denser than an inner city area.

Council leader Roderick Bluh said the decision was disappoint-ing but not unexpected.

He repeated the council's determination that the land would not be developed without a quality university.

He said that he had not given up hope and hoped Bath University would still come to Swindon.

North Swindon MP Michael Wills also hoped it was not the end of the road for Bath coming to Swindon.

"It's disappointing if the senate feel they don't want to proceed with the project that would have been of huge benefit for the town and the university," he said. "I very much hope this isn't the last word on the matter."

South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove echoed his comments.

"I'm very disappointed but we are not at the final stage yet," she said.

Coate campaigners say the early decision by the University of Bath was good news. Save Coate campaigner Alan Hayward said it was too early to announce the end of the threat to the site but it was encouraging news nonetheless. I would wait for the confirmation on March 1 but it's great news," he said.