It is now three weeks since the residents of Wye and its surrounding area woke up to a bombshell. Without the slightest prior warning, two organisations supposed to represent their interests — Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council — had secretly signed a ‘concordat’ with a third public body, Imperial College, London, to transform our charming rural area into a hotbed of futuristic research and development, or, as others might put it, home to a bunch of new and sprawling housing and industrial estates which will transform our lives and the heritage of this region forever.
Why is this happening? What exactly is happening? As I write this, it’s hard to say. The information released by ABC, KCC and Imperial is skimpy at best, though we are promised more at a public meeting on January 9th. But here are some facts that are known. Wye is an attractive and largely content rural community at the moment. No-one, prior to this announcement, was heard bemoaning the lack of industrial or housing development, let alone on a scale that will bring in thousands of new jobs and homes, with their associated traffic and impact on the environment.
There may be good reasons why Imperial wants to proceed with these plans, since they will involve the sale, doubtless at great profit, of land it inherited through the purchase of the old Wye College. But the loss of a working, vibrant rural community seems a high price to pay for the ambitions of a London university that seems to have little genuine interest in its small east Kent outpost, particularly when this ‘offer’ is backed up by the threat that Imperial will abandon Wye altogether unless it is allowed to do whatever it likes.
Any project with such far-reaching consequences for a settled, prosperous community like Wye deserves facts, explanations, research and consultation, all things that have been remarkably absent to date. This website exists so that people who are interested in and affected by these proposals can air their views, from both sides, and allow the residents of the Wye area to make an informed opinion about their future. We also intend to host all the public documents we can on this project so that anyone interested in it can find them in one place. You can see what we have so far here.
If you would like to contribute in some way, please use the contact form and get in touch.