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Wye Plans Scrapped

Sep 15 2006 14:45
Ashley Brown
College has scrapped plans for a large science park at Wye College, following local objections.
Wye College - many people are asking .. Why?

The Wye Park project, announced last December, has been scrapped by Imperial.

In a statement issued yesterday, available at, Deputy Rector Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz indicated that he would be recommending against any further pursuit of Wye Park and that there are "no current plans to expand research and development at Wye".

The plans would have seen land sold off for housing to pay for a large science park, with extra access roads and a motorway junction required to support it.

Residents of Wye rallied together to oppose the park, seeking to stop any building work in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounding the campus. The final death blow came on Wednesday when it was left out of the Local Development Framework for the area, signalling the end of any hopes to sell land for housing.

Shelving the plans sees the loss of a potential 12,500 jobs in the Ashford area, but the preservation of the small village of Wye and its surroundings.

Wye continues to be problematic for both College and the Union. Wye has been a costly exercise for College so far, culminating in the transfer of teaching to the University of Kent and the abortive science park idea.

On the Union side Wye has spent the summer losing money, wrecking a minibus after only 20 miles and losing a rented generator at one of their events which had to be replaced. Wye Blues also lost a large amount of money, however the plans were signed off by the central Union and bad luck with ticket sales is being blamed.

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Discussion about “Wye Plans Scrapped”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. Why?   
Sep 15 2006 17:33

The only good thing Imperial could do with Why is no longer!

Imperial could do with a world-class science park. While the government is too busy throwing money into the Higher (or more correctly - the just about better than Further) Education sector, some think tank at Imperial actually came up with a good idea to finance the project.

I can understand why some people would protest ageist the plan using the argument of "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty", but what is often forgotten is the benefit that this science park could being to the local people, work force, the UK and the world. Research is what Imperial is good at; being denied this opportunity will only set back its progress in becoming an even greater university. After all, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge were both founded on the country side and not within the metropolis.

2. No   
Sep 18 2006 05:32


3. local   
Sep 18 2006 10:58

Oxford and Cambirdge were founded in the Middle Ages, when there were very few towns and plenty of countryside to go around- not in 21st century Kent where every bit of available land gets covered in housing and any protected areas are the least we can leave.

Ashford has land available for projects like this- in fact, there has already been a Science park venture in the area: current activity on the site consists of retail and fast-food, clearly a globally-important venture.

Please don't think that Imperial ever had any intentions for Wye that weren't aimed at making money to spend in London. What you probably don't know is that when all the course closures and 'restructuring' were announced, Wye was ahead of all targets, and the campus as a whole was actually breaking even. Yes, that's right- taken as a whole it wasn't losing Imperial any money. The (shrinking) academic losses were covered by Wye's conference income. But Imperial didn't want Wye's conference income to stay in Wye to finish seeing Wye's academic activity through its recovery plan to the point where it broke even by itself- they wanted to keep the conference profits for London. Why would their response to housing development profits be any different?

Sep 19 2006 16:28

"a potential 12,500 jobs"

Just outsource them to Singapore. Wye residents can stay in the past and have their country gardens but they won't get in the way of progress.

Sep 19 2006 22:29

It's not progress we object to, it's greed, deceit and arrogance.

An 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' isn't a matter of opinion, it's a legal designation, and what Imperial had in mind was totally inappropriate for such a landscape; it would have been just as inappropriate in other beauty spots, such as the Lake District, which have similar protection under the law.

There are several under-occupied 'science'/business parks in Kent already, including one only 4 miles down the road, and there was no need for another. The only reason for it being at Wye was because Imperial saw it as being effectively 'free' land. If the science park was such a good idea, Imperial should have been prepared to buy land for it in an area where this sort of development would have been supported by planning law.

Imperial has spent a million quid of your tuition fees on a wasted exercise because it was too greedy and arrogant to listen to its advisers, who will have told Imperial from the start that it was going to be very difficult to get planning for such a scheme in this location.

Imperial made things worse by handling the thing so badly. If you try to sell an idea like this to locals by saying 'let me put this in words you'll understand', you are going to put people's backs up from the start.

Wye residents would have been delighted if Imperial had spent that £1m on reviving the college instead of trying to flog it off to developers. There's lots of progress that could have been achieved in Wye had that £1m been better spent.

6. local   
Sep 20 2006 10:09

"a potential 12,500 jobs"

  • almost enough for all the people in the new houses...

We are not anti-progress, but we have grasped a concept that Imperial probably wouldn't want to teach you- that not all change IS progress.

Sep 20 2006 12:12

clearly you Wye locals have so much to teach us ignorami - what is 'progress' then, if not the creation of 12,500 jobs? and why are you lot so vindictive about this anyway?

8. local   
Sep 20 2006 15:00

Progress is only that change which results in sufficient improvement to clearly outweigh all the negative effects.

12,000 jobs created sustainably, WITHOUT concreting an AONB, and without bringing more people than there are new jobs into an area where none of the rest of the curent infrastructure could cope anyway- THAT would be progress.

Imperial thinking sensitively and tactfully about what to do with Wye, thinking about what projects could be carried out on a scale suited to the site, and seeing Wye-based good-quality academic activity as an end in itself; rather than just charging in with a sledgehammer, all-or-nothing, seeing just how much money they can bleed out of that place- THAT would be progress.

Recognition that rural areas have their own role to play with in the economic and cultural life of the nation, respecting that role (or at least living and letting live) even if not all urbanites personally like or understand it- TAHT would be progress.

Ashford Borough Council finally deciding to stick with a Loocal Development Framework that allocates land for all the development they need from brownfield sites, and low-grade agricultural land with no designated conservation status in parts of the borough with good access to existing infrastructure- THAT is progress.

Sep 20 2006 15:13

Progress would be making more Londoners understand that some intelligent people live in Wye through choice, and not because they are too stupid to go anywhere else.

10. ha ha   
Sep 20 2006 16:19

AONB :- Anally-retentive Onanist Nimby Bastards.

Anyone got any better offers?

Sep 20 2006 18:44

okay answer this Wye. When that area was being converted in FARMLAND (a long time ago) people like you were running around saying we shouldn't cut down trees etc. because it looks nice and change is bad. The argument was that that land was needed to feed people. In the same way, a world class science park has the chance of doing very significant research that could have employed thousands and helped millions. Who is being selfish now?

12. local2   
Sep 20 2006 21:50

I doubt there were many eco-warriors in the middle ages, when people used to chop down trees for fuel & building materials (very environmentally sound).

And there wasn't much argument about it then either - what the lord of the manor said, went. The way Imperial has behaved towards Wye residents, you'd think it was stuck in the 13th century: we grubby serfs should tug our forelocks and be grateful that our magnanimous landowner knows what is best for us.

I've got no problems with world class science parks, but it's a bit wasteful to build a new one when there are perfectly good ones lying half-empty. But it's pointless arguing - you're engineers: you like building things...

Sep 21 2006 09:29

Those harking on about "progress" perhaps ought to read the Ashford Borough Council Local Plan (and incoming Local Development Framework) before they start being pompous and offensive to the locals. FYI: The local authority has been planning to build SEVERAL science and business parks in the Ashford area to the south and west of the town (which is not an AONB) where there is already good infrastructure (dual carriageways, motorway links, bus links to the CTRL etc) in place. These plans have been in place for nearly a decade now and the Council has been able to prepare for them. Building a similar site in Wye at short notice was simply uneconomic because Wye lacks the infrastructure that the other proposed sites already have in placed. It would have been necessary to build a new road and a bridge over the railway, costing tens of millions of pounds. The College knows this and that's why they've pulled out.

14. local   
Sep 21 2006 10:52

ICL= inconsiderate cash-grabbing leeches.

See, us yokels can play offensive acronyms too!

15. local   
Sep 21 2006 11:48

By the way, a few of you would do well to read this-

before calling us any more names.

Pay particular attention to the consultants' reports (page 4) saying the plan wouldn't be viable anyway (admittedly the unviability coming at least in part from IC's insistence that 100m from housing profits would go straight to London, but they were relying on more than that in outside donations anyway). But so much better for College to say "Those evil NIMBYs stopped our wonderful world-saving plan!" than "Actually, it started looking like after we'd siphoned off our phase 1 profits, the rest of it wouldn't be profitable any more."

Sep 21 2006 18:03

forgive me for breezing over the details. all i'm saying is that it would have been great to kick that village into some sort of life and put it on the map.

17. local   
Sep 21 2006 19:22

"some sort of life"

Just not a sort that we would choose over the sort we have already.

Sep 21 2006 20:50

okay - you win. just give us a shout when you change your mind.

19. local2   
Sep 21 2006 20:56

Wye College was on the map, globally, until Imperial started running it down.

Sep 25 2006 09:56

If you want to continue a discussion like this based on facts might I suggest you look at where you will find not only local opinions but many leaked copies of documents from your own college. You can also find the masterplan at The Sykes regime has wasted £1.5 million of money meant to be spent on your education on this pipedream. It was defeated not by nimbyism - Wye would have welcomed genuine regeneration of the college - but by its own duplicity, well-voiced local opposition and some rather good investigative journalism.

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