It took a while, but Wye Park is now beginning to creep onto the national agenda, in ways which surely won’t make for easier sleeping within the ramparts of Imperial College. The Sunday Times has today produced a long and detailed article on the plan, focusing on the opposition to it, the threat to the countryside, and raising the possibility that there may be animal testing on any new site.
The paper’s deputy political editor interviewed Imperial’s rector Professor Sir Richard Sykes for the article who boasted, ‘It would be research at the cutting edge. The government is very interested.’ He also told her that Imperial would up sticks and abandon the area if it ran into serious planning problems (though most locals would argue they are in that position already).
Kent County Council told the journalist that opposition to the scheme was so entrenched ‘it is certain to lead to a public inquiry’. The article also features Countess Sondes, the American-born aristocrat whose attempts to attract a small non-foods research centre backed by the UN to Wye spurred Imperial into its much larger attempt to build several hundred acres of housing and ‘science’ park.
Sondes told the Sunday Times, ‘Imperial’s work is stunning — their science is superb. I hope my centre could be located at their science park. We would be so fortunate to have this centre of excellence here.”
She is not involved in the housing developments. Nor is her ‘here’ the same as our ‘here’ either. She lives many miles away on the Lees Court estate in Faversham, though if she wanted her ‘here’ to be our ‘here’ she has plenty of opportunity, since she owns 4,500 acres there. I wouldn’t keep your fingers crossed though.
Finally… many thanks to all of you who keep e-mailing asking for more information about the secret meeting which appears to have taken place at Kent County Council headquarters on Tuesday involving Paul Clokie, of Ashford Borough Council, Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, the former KCC leader, Wye borough councillor Ian Cooling, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, and David Brooks Wilson. We will happily publish any information on this little tête-a-tête if people wish to provide it.