Falmouth is at "bursting point" and plans to increase the number of students at the two universities cannot be allowed, claim councillors who want to see a full impact assessment carried out to prove the town could not cope with a further influx of students.

FXPlus, which manages the Penryn Campus on behalf of Falmouth University and the University of Exeter, have applied for a variation of a condition on the original consent which capped student numbers at 5,000. The reason for the condition was "to ensure that highway infrastructure is not overloaded." FXPlus is now attempting to secure an increase in the number that can study at the campus to 7,500 full time equivalent students.

The application was debated at Falmouth Town Council's planning committee on Monday night when several councillors not on the committee turned out to have their say. Among them was Candy Atherton, who is also a Cornwall Councillor, who claimed the application does not address many of the issues concerning the people of Falmouth and Penryn.

She said: "The driver for this is the lack of money that Falmouth (University) now gets because it does not get grant funding because it's an arts institute and the government grant has been completely withdrawn.

"There is an economic drive to increase the number of students and that will continue. I think their argument is rather spoiled by the large increase of the vice-chancellor's salary. I think it is important that this council stands full square with the town and asks for a full impact assessment. I urge this council to oppose this (application).

"Some of our Cornwall Council colleagues see Falmouth and are quite jealous of the economic impact and the jobs it (the university) has brought, but they need to bear in mind we see the other side of it."

Councillor Steve Eva added: "Falmouth cannot take the expansion. The students that are already here, we welcome them, but we are at bursting point."

Councillor Rowenna Brock said: "An influx of additional students does not safeguard our community. Now we have quite a cohesive community, a nice broad mix of ages and backgrounds and that is what makes Falmouth such a success.

"The university, for whatever reason, want to disregard that. The fact they are not at this meeting speaks volumes. I think the combined population of Falmouth and Penryn is about 33,000 so 7,500 would make the student population almost a third and that will upset the balance."

Concerns were also raised over the pressure an increase in students would put on local housing and doctors' surgeries. The committee agreed to recommend that Cornwall Council refuses the application, stating the effect the increase would have on the highways, the pressure on housing and the lack of a proper impact assessment as its reasons,