Secret no more: the nightmare vision for Wye

We’ve been told for months it was nothing more than an idea for civilised discussion, and certainly not a plan. Now save-wye can prove this charade to be the gross and indefensible lie we’ve suspected all along. Today we publish extracts from the secret report that went to Imperial College’s management board on June 12, almost two months ago, which discussed the detailed blueprint the college had already assembled by that stage, one which would mean the death of the Kent village of Wye forever.

MapClick on the thumbnail to the right and you will see the enormity that Imperial wishes to visit on the village, and all so that it can fill its coffers to pay for more facilities in London… not Kent at all. This is the detailed plan Imperial College, Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council hoped you would all never see until it was too late and the destruction of Wye so insidiously ingrained into the local development process that only a miracle could stop it. The reality would be as bad as anyone could have feared… a sprawling mass of offices, scientific buildings and houses that would quadruple the size of the present village, wreath the area in construction work for years and end Wye’s heritage as a historic rural jewel of east Kent once and for all.

Spingraphic[1]And just to rub it in Imperial hopes, as it has promised, to skip construction in the Area of Special Scientific Interest — for now anyway — but plans to send the bulldozers beyond it, to build new housing on land it owns in the village of Brook too. It is a vast and cynical exercise in property development that would cause a furore anywhere in the country. But the idea that such a plan could be visited on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is simply breathtaking… and explains the extraordinary lengths to which the college and its placemen in Kent’s local authorities have gone to hide the truth from the very people this gigantic scheme would affect, economically, socially and culturally for years to come.

Today we can throw off a little of that shroud of secrecy. Click on our summary on the right to get a brief overview of the spin machine that has been foisted on the Ashford area for the past nine months. In separate longer articles below you can find out how…

  • The detailed plans for the village and outlying area would involve construction across huge swathes of beautiful countryside and stretch halfway to the village of Brook
  • The prospect of BP going to London instead of Wye has thrown a huge question mark against the project, and turned it instead into a potential moneyspinner to pay for college development in London
  • The publicly quoted costs for the project of £1 billion to £1.5 billion bear no relation to the real and much smaller estimates used in private by Imperial, quotes that appear to include the college taking £100 million in ‘profits’ for work in London the moment it goes ahead
  • Imperial’s own private documents boast about how local politicians have helped them formulate their plans… with potentially dire consequences for those involved
  • Imperial assesses the risks it believes could bring its overweening ambition crashing to earth

These are the most detailed revelations about Imperial’s ambitions and the way it has played fast and loose with the public to date, and they tell the story, for the most part, from the college’s own secret internal records. We hope to bring you more of the same in the future. If you wish to send us more documents anonymously, please use the special e-mail address in the sidebar.

A two-page printable overview of these revelations is available below. Please distribute as you see fit. We are working on a more detailed four-page printout. If anyone can help with printing this, say with an A3 laser colour printer, please get in touch urgently since we have limited facilities and budget for colour printing.

save-wye special August 10, 2006 (two A4 pages)

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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 Secret no more: the nightmare vision for Wye

  1. Alan Paterson says:

    In haste as we must catch ferry!

    What can I and my family say but thank you again to David and Justin for this ammunition that so greatly helps the formal opposition to Imperial’s Vision for Wye.

    Anyone who has until now been sceptical will surely be persuaded by the weight of evidence you have amassed.

    Thanks too to your brave ‘whistleblowing’ sources from all those of us who care about the future of Wye.

    Keep it up

  2. Francis Huntington says:

    No ferry to catch, but I am certainly fired up enough to contribute.

    At last we are getting to the heart of the matter and I for one, feel that I am now receiving, via this web site, the information that I had hoped to get from the Imperial College consultation process; having had my emails to them either ignored or given the standard evasion treatment. Thank you David and Justin for your relentless investigation and for those who have been supporting your quest.

    Since the merger, many friends, neighbours and fellow Wye College Alumni have asked me if Imperial College had aquired Wye College in order to ‘asset strip’. How wrong I was to reply that it seemed highly unlikely because that is not what UK educational institutions are about. I could not conceive that the legacy of the last one hundred years, not to mention the last five hundred years, would be systematically dismantled in order to serve the purposes of an organisation which has embarked upon an exercise in ‘asset value transfer’ which leaves the host community with so few benefits and such catastrophic outcomes.

    This asset transfer will degrade our village, our community, our natural environment and our farmland. Sir Richard Sykes is driving forward a programme which must be stopped. The methodical work of the WFG, the investgative work of save-wye, the work of national organisations and the diligent work of individual members of our community all now need our vigourous and sustained support to stop Imperial College’s ‘crazy’ aspirations.

    Universal condemnation is the order of the day.

  3. Kerry Bethel says:

    David Hill, ABC Chief Executive, recently issued a statement claiming ABC was conducting its preparation of the Council’s Local Development Framework Core Strategy in an impartial and proper manner.

    The latest batch of revelations from save-wye expose Mr Hill’s assertions to be manifestly inaccurate – so much so that it is difficult to see how he can continue to function as Chief Executive with his credibility so damaged.

  4. Ivan Warboys says:

    So now we know! This billion pound project is not about a Scientific Vision for Wye. This is, despite the assurances from the deputy rector in letters to myself and others, blatant asset stripping. I have never understood until now how Imperial College could propose a world class science centre without any clear objective, research programmes or financial support. We were told that the science might include converting non-food crops into useful products such as energy. Not for energy as BP’s Energy Biosciences Institute is going elsewhere. And have not International programmes in Brazil, Germany and South Africa already nullified some of the originality of this scientific research? Then we have other possible research on other non food crops for industry such as textiles and paper. I can point to any amount of published work world wide from well established research institutes in UK, the Netherlands and North America. Not much 5 star research here either. So what is the point of building an International Research Centre twice as big as the UK’s major research institute the Rothamsted Experimental Station and just hoping that projects will come along to fill it? And just where will these 500 world class professional staff come from? And will they really need 250 acres to house them?

    We were reminded by the Deputy Rector of the world class scientists and engineers such as Sir Alexander Fleming and John Burland who had helped to create Imperial’s world class reputation. But did they need vast Science Centres to come up with their discoveries?

    It is now abundantly clear that the only justification for the Science Centre is a front for getting planning permission for as much of the College Estate as possible and then to sell the land to developers to fill Imperial’s coffers. And then if they don’t get any financial backers for their vague research proposals they will just walk away from Wye and the scientific vision.

  5. Gary P says:

    For those of us that have been actively involved in this issue since it was first announced, the revelations of the last few days are not a surprise. Thanks though to Justin and David for their tireless determination to gather the “evidence” that shows what a torrid and scandalous state of affairs this is.

    As a relative newcomer to the area, Wye and the surrounding villages immediately took me. It is a special place- it is worth fighting for!

    To the people of Wye and Brook, take off your rose tinted glasses. Wye college has gone and Imperial is in its place, and it is clear that they have no regard for you, your villages and their history. Stand behind the local groups (such as the Wye Future Group) that are defending your community. And if Imperial continue to offer an “all or nothing” option, tell them load and clear – NOTHING! Do you really want a neighbour like this one?

    To the people of Ashford, look at how your elected representatives have behaved! It may be Wye today, but who’s next? We all have one thing that is precious to all politicians – votes! At the next election, vote out the Tory council majority! Vote out a Tory MP that has been, frankly, obscenely disinterested in the impact that this project would have one of one of its greatest assets – Wye the North Downs ANOB.

    To the people of Kent, this is the thin end of the wedge. Kent County Council have clearly demonstrated how they would like the “Garden of England” to become a giant industrial conurbation, not just with the Wye “vision”, but with many other projects. Building on an ANOB in this way will set precedence – where next? Charles Findlay, a resident of Wye and an elected representative of KCC, has not uttered one word on the subject, as I’m aware. Who are these people here to represent? Is it Kensington, or you???? Use those votes.

    And to the people of Imperial College Board, who have values and care about the reputation and history of the college, do you really want to be associated with this? Do you really want your institution to be known for the way it ruined forever an area of the English Countryside that was afforded ANOB status to preserve it for the nation and for future generations to enjoy – all for a few shekels? You have the power to stop this madness – DO IT NOW! Do the “right thing”. You will be applauded for it….

  6. Francis Huntington says:

    We have had an excellent News Letter from Wye Future Group through the letter box this afternoon – it is good to be reminded what has been achieved so far and what is ongoing. I hope that all those who are not members of WFG will take the opportunity to join by completing the membership application form on the back of the news letter.

    Enclosed with the newsletter was the latest offering from save-wye.org which includes the article above, including the detailed map. There is an excellent enlarged and coloured version in the window of 9 Church Street, do encourage those who you meet who have not been accessing save-wye.org to take a look. Surely, few will fail to be alarmed by the scale of the development.

    For those who were waiting for a ‘plan’before making a judgement on the acceptablity of Imperial’s ‘Vision’, here it is for all to see.

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