ABC LDF to include specific policies for Wye

On 8 May, an ABC working group approved the first draft of a policy that will form the bedrock for the consideration of any planning application that Imperial College might be minded to submit for Wye. This draft will feed forward into the Core Strategy of the Local Development Framework (LDF). That document will be debated by ABC in August before going out to full consultation under the auspices of the Secretary of State in September.

This is a very important document for Wye. It is the first draft of the policy framework against which any proposals from Imperial will be tested. That policy is firmly rooted in planning legislation, particularly that which protects the AONB. It has long been my view that this legislation gives us the best foundation for our most effective defence against any extreme depredations by Imperial. In its final form, this policy will give direct local effect to the legislation in the specific context of Wye.

Read the paper here: Core strategy

I am putting this paper up here at the earliest possible stage, to keep the community of Wye and beyond informed on this emerging policy. Paper copies will be distributed to the Parish Council and other stakeholders, including all villagers, later this month. After the LDF Core Strategy has been debated by the Council in August, it will be submitted to the Secretary of State. There will then be a period of formal consultation in September when the public can register their comments for consideration by the Secretary of State, who is expected to conduct an independent examination in public of the Core Strategy no earlier than Spring 2007. The inspector conducting that examination can recommend modifications to the document and these recommedations will be binding on ABC.

It is essential that such a key policy does its job properly and is “fit for purpose”. It is up to us as a community, to make sure it is fit for our purpose too. As I say, this paper is for information only at this stage – full-scale consultation will follow in September and I shall make sure everyone knows when that consultation begins. However, if you have any immediate comments, please let me have them and I’ll make sure they are fed directly to the LDF team at ABC.

I do stress that the creation and circulation of this draft does not (repeat, not) mean that there is an Imperial planning application poised to descend on us all. It is intended to ensure that when/if Imperial move to that stage, effective policies are in place that are firmly rooted in the legislation and directly address the local issues we have raised.

Those who attended the stakeholders’ consultation on 9 May, will have heard the SOM presenters stress, more than once, that Imperial are still a long way from that stage. According to SOM, the next key decision for Imperial is whether to proceed and, if they are to do so, in what form. That decision is presently due to be delivered in July.

SOM’s task now is to present options for the way forward. Our task is to make absolutely clear where our lines are drawn and which options are and are not acceptable to us – and why. SOM must make sure those positions are fed back to Imperial, so that any plans Imperial eventually produce take full account of our views, I shall be writing both to Imperial and SOM to make this unambiguously clear.

As always, I’ll be happy to respond to any queries or comments posted up 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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7 Responses to ABC LDF to include specific policies for Wye

  1. David Hewson says:

    Why doesn’t Ashford Council simply shorten the process and send Imperial an e-mail saying, ‘Take me, I’m yours’? This is nothing but an invitation to Messrs Sykes and co to come here and do whatever they like. Whatever happened to that simple word, ‘No’?

    I sincerely hope local politicians will start to make their personal positions clear on this issue as soon as possible, and in particular what they think of an anodyne document like this, which clearly, in its language, presupposes Imperial will get the result it wants, and we should all be grateful for their interest.

    Here’s another core strategy…

    1. They will not, under any circumstances, build in the AONB, or close enough to damage it.
    2. They will start to tell us the full truth about what you are up to.
    3. They will be treated, by ABC and KCC, like any other property developer, not one with some special cosy status that gets them VIP treatment.

    We already know that the non-foods centre is lined up for Wye which, with the interest of the University of Kent, ought to take care of the ‘decline’ in the village’s academic sector brought about by Imperial’s incompetence in the first place. Anything beyond that is speculative commercial development — and should be opposed outright, not with a bunch of caveats through which the likes of David Brooks Wilson will drive several carts and horses.

  2. Kerry Bethel says:

    The anticipated Imperial proposal should not even get past Condition 1 of the ABC draft Core Strategy viz. ‘ there are no suitable alternative sites. ‘

    Of course there are other sites in Ashford Borough and beyond with closer motorway access that would not cause anywhere near the same social and environmental carnage as would plonking down an industrial/science park and lots of new houses onto an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

    However, an alternative site would not provide the cash machine that Imperial are seeking to create without any meaningful thought whatsover for the residents of Wye, Brook and all of those who cherish and enjoy this beautiful area.

    I fear, like many, that decisions in favour have already been taken in principle at ABC and KCC and all of this pretence at consultation and cunningly crafted Core Strategies will not much change things.

    One must hand it it Imperial, in an arrogant and manipulative manner it has cornered ABC and KCC into being its runners for its aims of massive enrichment.

    David, I would agree with you that ABC are lying prostrate on the floor allowing Imperial to walk all over them and showing as much moral resolve as a contestant on Big Brother!

  3. David Hewson says:

    Perhaps I was a bit over-hasty — you’re right, it ought to fall at that first hurdle. But then, if that first hurdle is accurate, why did Ashford sign the Concordat in the first place? And why does just about everything else in this document sound as if it’s trying to find a solution to make the development acceptable?

    I mean… ‘exemplary standards of sustainable design and quality’. Imperial are hardly likely to say they’re not doing that, are they? And how on earth could such a development ‘enhance’ the biodiversity value of the area under any circumstances?

  4. Did Tamesis write that? says:

    Study the language used in that paper – those points are practically word for word lifts from the “Wye Campus Vision” spin-vehicle web site:

    “…linkage between the scale […] and community facilities” (Core Strategy) versus “…community complementing the scale…” (Wye Campus Vision)

    “…exemplary standards of sustainable design and quality…” (Core Strategy) versus “…very high standards and quality of the built environment and sustainability…” (Wye Campus Vision)

    So what are the chances of Tamesis PR having submitted a “draft” to ABC on behalf of Imperial? They’re making a hash of the community consultation, but I suppose they must be making their money somehow.

  5. Kerry Bethel says:

    Perhaps Ian could find out if it was purely coincidental that ABC just happens to have used by chance identical terms to that previously used by Imperial in “Wye Campus Vision” or was the Draft Core Strategy mainly the work of Imperial?

    The answer will show who “de facto” runs the ABC planning policy for this highly contentious matter – the elected councillors and their officers or Imperial and its advisors?

  6. Ian Cooling says:

    Hi Kerry (and others). There is a goodly range of quite complex issues here and I want to do them justice, but I’m a bit bogged down in the day job at the moment.

    You may, or may not, know that I shall be talking with WFG at their meeting on Wednesday evening and this paper will be on the agenda. I’ll post a substantive response after that.

    In the meantime, I’d just like to quash one hare before it runs too far. This draft strategy paper was not (rpt not) written by Themesis. It was written by ABC officers as just one part of the long-running LDF process and signed off as a draft by ABC members. Imperial (and other stakeholders) will now have a copy.

    Given that the draft policy is firmly rooted in the statutes and that Imperial will be paying close attention to those same statutes, I really do not see anything sinister in the wording on their website (which is of course not “identical”). I see this as standard “box-ticking” by Imperial. Scull around the net and you will find more than a few examples in similar contexts.

    More later in the week – Thursday or Friday.

  7. Kerry Bethel says:

    Ian – thanks for your reassurance.

    Against the backdrop of duplicitous activity by the concordatees I am sure that Ian would readily accept that it is difficult to be anything other than hyper-suspicious about documents issued separately by ABC under a statutory obligation and IC for spin purposes, that bear more than just a passing similarity.

    Particularly when the IC document preceded that of ABC.

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