Ashford Borough Council’s leader, Paul Clokie, has said that the credibility of the Wye concordats has been undermined because Imperial College’s plans — as revealed on save-wye.org — are far more extensive than has ever been discussed with councillors or officers. He is now demanding urgent discussions with the college because, he says, the concordats’ ‘worth and credibility’ have been seriously undermined.
In a sensational development, Cllr Clokie — who signed both concordats last year and was, until now, one of Imperial College’s leading cheerleaders — says that he wants to place on record ‘that it was never my intention in signing the concordats with Kent County Council and Imperial to support the working up of proposals on this scale, or of proposals which incorporate large scale residential enabling development on greenfield AONB land’. In an amazing attack on Imperial, he adds that he is ‘most concerned that the intention of the concordats has been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted’.
Cllr Clokie’s sudden and totally unexpected defection to the white team comes in the wake of last night’s decision by the local development framework task group to dump reference to Imperial College’s plan from the core strategy. Coming so soon after that decision, Cllr Clokie’s astonishing criticism of the college is a staggering blow for the college at the end of what has been an appalling summer for supporters of Wye Park. It now opens the way for the ruling Conservative group on the council to actively oppose Imperial’s plans as they now stand.
It is now clear that not only has Imperial been attempting to dupe all of us over the scale and real motivation behind its plans — namely to acquire ‘a £100million endowment by unlocking land with residential planning consent’ — but it has also deceived its so-called partners in the concordat process, Kent County Council and Ashford council as well. save-wye.org’s publication last month of the complete June 12 management board presentation by Imperial College appears to have blown the entire process wide open and wrecked Imperial’s cunning plan to have its development incorporated in every local and regional planning framework before making its real intentions clear. Amazingly, the college is still attempting to brazen it out by refusing to comment on the revelations.
Cllr Clokie’s full statement reads: ‘I am aware that the Council’s Local Development Framework Task Group decided yesterday evening to recommend that the Local Development Core Strategy should not contain a policy relating to Imperial College at Wye.
‘For my own part, I have become increasingly anxious about the emergence and publication by third parties in recent weeks of what appears to be a master plan of Imperial College’s development proposals for Wye. I know it has caused considerable concern locally. It appears to envisage large scale residential development on a greenfield area of outstanding national beauty (AONB) land. This recent plan has not been the subject of discussion or consultation with Council Officers, and the scale of development shown on the plan could not be justified in my view.
‘Whilst I continue in principle to support Imperial College in working up proposals for re-development of their brownfield land at the Wye campus, I want to place on record that it was never my intention in signing the Concordats with Kent County Council and Imperial to support the working up of proposals on this scale, or of proposals which incorporate large scale residential enabling development on greenfield AONB land. I am most concerned that the intention of the Concordats has been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted. I therefore, seriously question their worth and credibility and I intend to have urgent discussions with Imperial on this issue.’