KCC dreams of ‘the best of all possible worlds’

Forget about — in the words of Wye’s own borough councillor — all that doom and gloom you keep reading about here. Voltaire’s Dr Pangloss — a man who saw benefit in everything — clearly works in local government these days. What other explanation can there be for the extraordinary upbeat presentation given to a meeting of Kent County council’s environment and regeneration policy overview committee on April 21 last.

You can find a copy of the presentation, apparently from planning chief Pete Raine, below, and stirring stuff it is too. It promises the Wye Campus project is NOT (their capitals not mine)…

  • A proposal which dispenses with the existing village heritage
  • An industrial park with manufacturing units and warehouses
  • A new high density ‘city’ supporting 12,000 jobs on-site (that April 1 thing of ours was a joke, folks.. OK?)
  • A generator of through-traffic traversing the village
  • A landscape ‘covered in concrete’
  • A blight in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • A ‘sea’ of parking

Really? So what is it then? Ah, there’s the catch…

Well, you would expect someone making these far-reaching claims to know that. But, of course, There Is No Plan. So, er, all we get is what the campus project could be. And that is, among other things…

  • A diverse and integrated community complementing the scale & character of Wye
  • A model, environmentally aware and resource sufficient proposal which integrates with the tremendous landscape setting
  • A proposal which complements the historic natural landscape
  • A proposal which invigorates the local, regional and national economy

The trouble is, of course, all this is speculation. And if Wye Campus could be all the these things, it could equally well be an environmental disaster replete with horrible development no-one needs that probably won’t find buyers either. Whoever put this piece of PowerPoint together can’t have it both ways. Either you know what is being planned, in which case you can make these kinds of claims. Or you don’t — and everyone still says this is the case — in which case it is a lot of hot air.

Oh, and as a simple matter of fact I should point out that Countess Sondes has already stated here that her non-foods centre will not be involved in research — so where is that coming from and what will it be about please?

The report was ‘noted’ by the committee, though the chairman ‘advised members to consider any comments they made as members who may represent the electoral division of Wye and as members who may serve on the Planning Applications Committee’. Tune in later this week and we will decode that cryptic aside for you too.

Wye presentation to KCC April 21 2006

Wye minutes KCC

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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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13 Responses to KCC dreams of ‘the best of all possible worlds’

  1. 3 Strikes & your out says:

    Was it not the same P.Raine who at the presentation to the village said something along the lines of ‘ Get used to it Wye is going to be a Town’? (there was no plan then)

    Wasn’t he the chap who seemed to know more about the IC project and plan details than Boris did some time back. (there was still no plan)

    And here he is again, there is still no plan, but P.Raine knows exactly what IT IS NOT.

    PERHAPS THIS IS WHAT IT IS.
    The College do not need any of the 900 odd acres (about 300 or so) may be set aside for Scientific interest and the rest 500 to 600 acres will be sold to developers where we will see the building of thousands of houses, possibly tens of thousands of houses. Who is P.Raine trying kid, what does he think will happen with that land once sold to developers?

    The Science Park area will probably also be sold off to Industry to build an Industrial Park – how could P.Raine know anything about the construction of this site as there are no plans yet but you can bet your bottom dollar that Imperial College will not build the Science Park, no sir, it the land will be sold to developers to do that.

    The Research Centre and upgraded existing buildings might never happen as all concerned tuck into the development opportunities whilst IC enjoy the interest on £300 million plus and those presently driving this project either retire in a blaze of glory, join development companies or simply pretend they where never involved. You know the old saying ‘ It’s the developers you know, nothing to do with us anymore, we just sold the land’ There has been suggestions or is it rumour that Sir Richard Sykes will retire before a single brick is laid? Perhaps P.Raine’s crystal ball can predict that also?

    The Conservatives in Kent are wobbling, but it is only smoke and mirrors, designed to make us think that they are shifting their ground. When are the Conservatives going to take a stand on this? What is the story about Vote Blue GO Green when all the conservatives are still standing behind this project – wobbling a bit maybe, but still fully behind it. If they weren’t we would have had the Conservative Leader do a walk about in the Wye area already getting as much Press Coverage from his Environment Stand on this subject as he could get, and believe me, if he stood squarely against Imperial College, Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council on this issue and took it to the ballot box, he would get massive national coverage.

    This is the biggest test for the New Man in the Job – Straight Talking, Mean what you say kind of guy he wants us to believe he is – well then, Mr. C. stand against this concreting over of areas of outstanding natural beauty and prove that you are not just another spin artist and that you have the guts to take on the big boys.

  2. David Hewson says:

    I believe Prof Sykes is due to retire in 2008. Pete Raine’s earlier comments include….

    ‘There is a level of housing that will be necessary as a result of the jobs being created. Inevitably, you are going to change the face of the village.’ And his prediction that the AONB would be ‘irreparably damaged’. You can read the details here.

    The existence of parallel universes should not, perhaps be discounted, since they would explain everything. Perhaps Professor Stephen Hawking ought to be the real academic mentor to turn to in these matters.

  3. Calixtus says:

    Planning chief Pete Raine has a duty to provide consistent and objective guidance to the elected members of the KCC.

    It is evident from disclosures on save-wye that he falls way short on both counts.

    There is little consistency in predicting that the AONB would be ‘irreparably damaged’ and a few weeks later saying it would NOT blight the AONB. He has a history of inconsistency which is not acceptable at this level. What will he come up with next?

    His undisguised enthusiasm for a major scheme incorporating a chunk of AONB land here in Wye is there for all to witness but does debase the objectivity of his advice.

    A councillor showing such one-sidedness would probably be barred from further involvement in the matter.

  4. Justin Williams says:

    There are a few questions that Pete Raine ought to answer about this presentation, not least:

    1) Who prepared the Powerpoint presentation?

    2) If it was somebody within KCC, why does it use the same format and typefaces as all the presentations prepared by ICL and its contractors on the Wye Park plan since January 9?

    3) Why does it use the same language and phrases as all of the presentations made by ICL since January 9?

  5. M Sorken says:

    David Cameron is a PR experiment, like Tony Blair before him. The Conservative Leader does not care about Wye and I do not believe he sees our plight as a springboard to power, his main concern.

    I am interested in seeing a reply to the three questions asked by Mr Williams.

  6. Jack Woodford says:

    What the residents of Wye must remember, is that all these Politicians, have other adjendas that do not include the interests of Wye…is David Cameron even aware of Wye? or for that matter Tony Blair, has anybody found out what Ruth Kelly’s views are on massive rural development such as could take place in Wye…she probably does not even know where Wye is!

  7. Ian Cooling says:

    Hi David, To be accurate (but not pedantic of course) – your opening sentence in this piece indicates I wrote of “doom and gloom”. My actual words were “negativity and cynicism” – not the same meaning at all.

  8. Cliff Whitbourn says:

    Negative and cynical, an apt description of the behavior being displayed by elected local government officials at a time when clear leadership is required.

  9. David Hewson says:

    To be pedantic… I never wrote that the phrase ‘gloom and doom’ was used here.

  10. J Arthur says:

    Well said Cliff.

    Ian Cooling’s tactic of continually implying that the views of the PC, WFG, WBA and almost every individual in the village do not represent the mainstream concensus of opinion and that only he is privy to and the champion of a considerable contradictory point of view is to his discredit.

    I see from above that there is yet another person being reprimanded for willfully or otherwise misrepresenting him when in reality it is Mr Cooling that is not representing his electorate’s interests.

    David Hewson has repeatedly said that save-wye will publish all points of view but that few if any voice any support for Imperial’s property speculation attempts on the AONB. There is little or no support within the village for any development whatsoever on this beautiful countryside.

    After the disgraceful Concordat affair, Imperial’s arrogant handling of this matter locally, the contradictory statements and the demeanour of some of the local and regional politicians and their paid officers is it surprising that negativity and cynicism are prevalent throughout the community?

    Please heed Cliff Whitbourn’s call for clear leadership.

  11. Wye Action says:

    The Wye Action Groupn (not WFG)are in the final stages of the development of an all inclusive project that will see every single household in the Parish signoff on a complete document that is neither biased nor laced with sneaky wording to suit the creator (I refer to Imperial College document of course) It will be hand delivered directly to each occupant by consultants, (not placed online for about 20% to see like Imperial did), it will reveal the true feelings of the Village and Parish on this matter, something the Parish Council should have done, has been asked to do several times and still remains quiet about and the results will be retained in confidence for use against Imperial College who is breaching our human rights when we take this matter to the European Courts.

  12. Sid Smith says:

    Would be nice to know who the members of Wye Action are, and not presented as a secret society. The Questionaire
    is open to abuse as anyone is able to download it and fill it in as many times as required to slant the result.Could this not be done by Imperial? A previous survey in the village was open to the same possible abuse fairly recently. Some form of audit needs to be in force for a true result.

  13. Kerry Bethel says:

    Sid Smith makes a very valid point.

    It would be a shame if there were any doubts as to the veracity of the result.

    Imperial’s spin machine and some local and regional politicians will go to any length to discredit a result not favourable to their ambitions or agenda.

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