The sun shines, the buildings are beautiful, there is not a speck of cement to be seen and the only new houses are the ones inhabited by beaming Nobel Laureates. Welcome to Wye at Imperial College. Welcome to www.wyecampusvision.org.uk
OK, so it’s only a website and it has more omissions in it than a dodgy dossier, but the picture that Tamesis PR’s online creation paints is an alluring one. There are no plans, it tells us, failing to mention the fact that a big fat report by planning consultants Gerald Eve sits in a locked drawer at County Hall or that Ernst & Young produced their first comments on this project for Imperial nearly three years ago.
Instead, we get pretty pictures of buildings, scientists drinking coffee and sculptured bridges over babbling brooks (that’s brooks, not Brooks Wilson). We get assurances about Imperial’s commitment to ‘comprehensive consultation arrangements with the local community’ (no mention that the villages bordering this thing are ‘not a priority’ or that Imperial’s timetable for consulting on this has already slipped by at least two months). No mention either of Professor Sir Leszek’s outburst at Tamesis at Tuesday’s meeting with Wye Parish Council when he found out they hadn’t produced the minutes from last time. Come on guys, he stormed, you are being paid ‘an awful lot of money’.
Considerable work has gone into this thing. There’s a vision of a world-class research centre which will save the planet from the inevitable fuel Armageddon, something that ‘ensures very high standards and quality of the built environment’ and the establishment of a ‘sustainable academic community dedicated to working on pioneering research (forgive me, but didn’t we have a sustainable and profitable academic community before Imperial decided to close it down?). There’s even an exemplar (don’t those chaps wear chain mail and guard the Holy Grail or something?) research community. What there isn’t mention of is the old Borys ‘Wye will become a town, get used to it’ line, the appalling secrecy and collusion between the puppeteers in South Kensington and their marionettes at Springfield and Tannery Lane and the rather unfortunate fact that we’ve read all of this guff before.
The website seeks to dispel some of the ‘myths’ that have sprung up around this scheme. It is not, says Tamesis:
- A proposal which dispenses with the existing village heritage
- An industrial park with manufacturing units
- A new high density ‘city’ (oops, did somebody take David Hewson’s excellent April Fool at face value?)
- A generator of through-traffic traversing the village (no mention here of KCC’s application for government cash to build a ‘road from the M20 to new research park at Wye’)
- A blight in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or a landcape ‘covered in concrete’ (didn’t somebody say something about 300 acres of housing somewhere? Now, who could that have been?)
Tamesis are anxious to stress that they want to keep us informed. We hope that they will and we also hope that they learn to use apostrophes pretty quickly.
They are, after all, being paid ‘an awful lot of money’.