Imperial want your opinion (before they start building)

It’s taken longer than they ever promised, and you have just a couple of weeks to take part, but Imperial have finally come up with a way in which you can tell them just what you think about Wye Park. Follow this link and you can have your say online by filling in a form. But get it in by May 5 ‘so the results can be discussed at the next Consultation Panel meeting and the Community Workshop’.

Quite how people are supposed to know this ‘Wye Campus Vision Questionnaire’ exists is beyond us. We weren’t told; only eagle-eyed save-wye reader Andy Gubb spotted it. The questions are summarised below if you’d like to think about them before you answer. You will also find a print version here. Since we have no way of knowing whether Imperial are actually distributing them in the village, you can also find a copy below — please print it out and give it to people without internet access. They can be filled in with a pen and sent direct to the college.

Imperial Questionnaire on the future of Wye

It’s nice they should finally get around to ‘consultation’. But we tend to agree with Andy Gubb when he says, ‘I note that many of the questions are worded in a way which presupposes the development going ahead — they’re along of the lines of “What would be the best use for land when it is re-developed?” and “What are the most important attributes of to maintain [when we go ahead and implement our proposals]?”

The questions Imperial would like you to answer…

Q1: What are the key attributes which truly define the village’s character and heritage?

Q2: What are the main elements of the community which must be maintained and could be strengthened over time?

Q3: What existing community facilities and infrastructure are underprovided for in Wye?

Q4: What are the highlights of the ‘Community Calendar’ each year?

Q5: Besides the level crossing, what other current factors impact or impede local traffic, parking and usage of the rail station?

Q6: What factors impact or impede walking and cycling?

Wye College

Q7: If the historic Imperial College Buildings are not ‘fit’ for state-of-the-art research facilities, how would you like to see them be re-used and revitalised?

Q8: If the area of the campus directly north of the historic ‘Quad’ were redeveloped, what uses would be best located there?

Q9: When the agricultural studies at the college cease to exist, how should the existing agricultural facilities and lands be best used in the future?

Local Setting

Q10: What are the key attributes which truly define the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

Q11: What are the key elements of the natural landscape setting that need to be maintained and strengthened over time?

Wye Future

Q12: Could the future research institute and research park be seen as the next logical step in the organic growth of the village?
Yes
No
Don’t know

Q13: Should development be located adjacent to or as far away from the village as possible?
Adjacent to the village
Further away

Q14: How should new development ‘link’ to and ‘engage’ the existing community? What should link them together?

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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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6 Responses to Imperial want your opinion (before they start building)

  1. Mike says:

    Err, is that community consultation? What factors impact or impede walking and cycling?
    What does this have to do with price of fish?

  2. Doris says:

    Wait a minute; this is not consultation at all. This is Imperial going through the motions, ticking the box that says they must take account of the views of the local community, but all the answers to their 14 questions are capable of manipulation and turning into support for their plan. Once you play the game and answer the questions, you are going along with the vision to build and build yet more on the countryside. The whole point is to mislead the community into contributing to their own plan. All Imperial will do is present what they want as the views of the village.

    Take for example, Q11: What are the key elements of the natural landscape setting that need to be maintained and strengthened over time? Reply to that and you have given up.

    Similarly, Q10: What are the key attributes which truly define the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?
    Say trees and you are telling them that trees in their new landscaped science park will be a substitute; mention open fields and they will provide open spaces; say meadows and they will sow some.

    Enter into any communication on Q5 and you are bound to be giving support to a new road –
    Q5: Besides the level crossing, what other current factors impact or impede local traffic, parking and usage of the rail station? And so on.

    This piece of Imperial-speak is carefully worded and very skilfully put together; it costs an enormous amount of money to get this sort of script, so simple yet potentially so duplicitous. Every question no matter how it is answered will give them material to use in support of their plans.

    As very likely our protests to Professor Borysiewicz have already done – are those ‘over 250 letters from interested parties’ quoted on the Vision for Wye Campus website in fact our letters of opposition?

    We are being led by the nose to the slaughterhouse. Do not fall for the trick of these questions being well hidden, this is highly dangerous territory designed to erode people’s ability to object.
    Doris

  3. Dead right Doris.

    I was dismayed to find Imperial using the fact that I had sent them a letter pointing out in no uncertain terms the lunacy and barbarity of their vision as evidence that they had been consulting the local community. The more you object the more it helps them on their way. And whatever you do, don’t be ‘negative’ about a bad idea.

    Not very fair really. Rather like ‘democracy’. We were consulted about that too, so we shouldn’t complain when our ‘elected representatives’ sell us down the river. Money talks and I seem to have lost my voice, although I’m looking forward to casting my vote this time round.

    But this questionaire really takes the biscuit. Given that we are going to build 300 acres of housing, would you prefer some trees and a lovely tarmaced cycle path with that? Would you like a big new road to ensure the carpeting of Wye with houses or a huge one connecting it with the motorway? How often do you beat your wife?

    I can’t see Imperial’s science park getting very far if this is their commitment to the pursuit of knowledge. Whoops, I forgot – they’re in the business of making money, and getting us to tell them how to improve their planning application should get the cash till ringing.

    I’m not going to be helping them out with this one.

  4. Jo says:

    I agree with Doris. If you complete the questionnaire, be careful how you answer!

    I had a feeling this would happen when IC’s PR gurus said they would involve residents in discussions about ‘elements’ of the scheme – I bit my cynical tongue and refrained from commenting that I would bet it would only be on the less important elements.

    My local authority in London is a master of the leading questionnaire. They’ve repeatedly asked questions that, no matter how you answered them, allowed them to ‘justify’ the most ridiculous and unpopular proposals. All so they can tick the box that says ‘public consultation process required’.

    >Q3: What existing community facilities and infrastructure are underprovided for in Wye?

    This is so that IC can show that the village would be better served if it were larger, as it could then support more ‘facilities’ – which is to state the obvious – and that because the village doesn’t have certain facilities (due to its size), it should be made much bigger (so that it might have them). Of course, the ‘facilities’ might never actually be built, and certainly not before all the houses have long gone up.

    >Q9: When the agricultural studies at the college cease to exist, how should the existing agricultural facilities and lands be best used in the future?

    If one suggests anything that would involve building on agricultural land (as opposed to land with agricultural buildings on it), that could be seen as implicit approval to build on the rest of the college’s ‘greenfield’ land.

    >Q10: What are the key attributes which truly define the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

    Surely the fact that it is unspoilt by major development is the key attribute!

    Doris is spot on: if we define the key attributes as things like variety of wildlife, unbroken views, public access for walkers, or whatever, we’ll just get an attempt to ‘design in’ these ‘features’ within a ‘built environment’; i.e. the concrete blocks will be landscaped and foot-pathed, and bat-friendly boxes will be nailed to telegraph poles to ‘encourage wildlife’.

    >Q13: Should development be located adjacent to or as far away from the village as possible?

    Is this a trick question? The further away from the village (which I presume IC would consider the likely nimby position), the more likely to be built up on the Downs rather than as ‘in-fill’! Though I’m not sure exactly what it would be filling in.

    However, building it ‘away’ from the village might have a worse impact on the AONB – and the village, if it deters walkers from visiting for the day and stopping for a pub lunch, for example.

    Can you reply ‘neither – I don’t support development on this scale in or near Wye’, or will that be regarded as ‘not expressing an opinion’?

    >Q14: How should new development ‘link’ to and ‘engage’ the existing community? What should link them together? What typically vacant newspeak. What on earth does this mean? How can one answer a question that doesn’t make sense?

    Building hundreds of houses a couple of miles away from the rail station isn’t exactly the environmentally responsible, sustainable, car-minimising type of development that IC and its PR minions have been spouting on about. Who’s going to walk all the way to the station when they have a car?

    (Up on the Downs? what an odd language we have).

  5. David Hewson says:

    They’re trying to get us both ways here. If people don’t fill in the questionnaire they will claim there is no local interest in this issue. How about this for a suggestion? Someone produces an independent questionnaire, with genuine, important questions, and we host it on the site here where people can fill it in? Who can suggest the real questions that can be asked — and they need to be decent questions that don’t look as if we’re loading it?

    If we could do that, we could produce our own independent survey, suggest people fill in that, examine the numbers and make them public and…. Then Imperial couldn’t say there was no local interest.

    Just an off the top of the head idea after a long day in London….

  6. Cliff Whitbourn says:

    What a wonderfully average exercise in ‘open questions’
    I’m sure any training manager would be thrilled.

    It is a shame the ‘sale’ is lost with Q.11…. ‘Organic Growth’! Bull….!

    A straightforward No will suffice I’m sure.

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