Do the math: it’s an awful lot of houses

A vision of Wye's future?

Is this what ‘the capital from Wye College’ will look like?

DETAILS ARE still hard to come by and the haste with which Imperial College is proceeding remains unseemly, but there are one or two things careful observers can deduce from what Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz told Wye Parish Council last night.

The most interesting of these is about housing or, as the deputy rector would put it, ‘the capital from Wye College’.

Phase One of the Wye Science Park will consist of the research base and the regeneration of the old college. Prof Sir Leszek estimates that this will cost between £300 million and £400 million. Some of this money may or may not come from outside sources, including the EU’s Framework Agenda 7 budget.

But the rest of it — something in the order of several hundreds of millions of pounds — will have to be financed by ‘the capital from Wye College’. The deputy rector was clear about this – it has to be self-financing. There is no prospect of Imperial’s other operations cross-funding it.

Several hundred million pounds? That’s an awful lot of houses even assuming that Imperial can drive a coach and horses through the planning system and sell off its AONB land for expensive homes. How many exactly? It’s close to impossible to put a figure on because we don’t know what AONB land is worth with planning permission for houses because it’s never been done before.

Land values in and around Ashford are about £200,000 per acre with planning permission for housing. We can assume that land in Wye’s AONB would be worth up to double that. It’s a lot of money but it’s also a lot of building work.

Say Imperial manage to find funding for half of the project. That leaves up to £200 million to be funded from ‘the capital from Wye College’. Do the math: you’ll find you’re looking at 500 acres of mixed housing.


About David Hewson

Professional novelist, published in more than 20 languages. Creator of the Nic Costa series set in modern Rome, Pieter Vos in Amsterdam, adaptions of the Sarah Lund stories in Copenhagen, and versions of Shakespeare worked for Audible.
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