So, Professor, tell us again about local involvement

It was supposed to be Imperial College’s attempt to show Wye that it is keen to involve the village in drawing up its plans for a science park and redevelopment of the college. But almost a month after Imperial’s deputy rector, Prof Sir Leszek Boriesiwicz, met parish councillors to assure them that the secrecy of the last two years is over, a familiar silence is all that emanates from the college.

It is already the second half of March and by its own timetable issued in a ‘statement of intent’ last week, Imperial should have had a website on its plans up and running, established a ‘drop-in’ point at its Wye campus, issued a series of press releases and held some ‘stakeholder meetings’. Instead, the only things released by Imperial have had to have been wrung out of it in a series of freedom of information requests. In its statement, Imperial continues to insist that it wants a residents liaison group despite Prof Sir Leszek agreeing — at the February meeting — that the college would liaise directly with the parish council. The first of these is pencilled in for April 4 — the same day that planning consultants Gerald Eve and master architects SOM are supposed, according to Prof Sir Leszek, to hold the first of four ‘workshops’ with residents of Wye. On this, too, there is silence.

The statement says: ‘Imperial College is committed to establishing comprehensive arrangements to ensure that the aspirations of local people and other stakeholders are fully considered. The objective of the consultations is to assist the masterplanning team understand the issues, constraints and local preferences for the site.’

Imperial is, clearly, not very good at meeting its own deadlines. It’s pretty co-operative when it comes to other people’s deadlines, though … who can forget the frantic representations it made to meet the timetables of the Kent and Medway Structure Plan, the Ashford Local Development Framework and the South East Plan last year. But, of course, that was before the inconvenient matter of letting the masses know that Imperial, Ashford and KCC had agreed to drop a science park and several hundred acres of housing on to the area of outstanding natural beauty.

You can read Imperial’s ‘Statement of Intent’ here

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About David Hewson

Professional novelist, published in more than 20 languages. Creator of the Nic Costa series set in modern Rome. Most recent book the novel of the Danish TV series, The Killing.
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