The flood of letters of complaint to Ashford Borough Council was one reason the authority changed its position on Wye… and now every one of you who wrote in is about to receive the same reply from planning chief Richard Alderton explaining this most welcome of u-turns. You can find a copy at the foot of this article.
In it Mr Alderton says, ‘I realise how strongly local people feel about the character and environment of Wye and its surroundings. This is also very clear from the large post-bag I have relating to the current position with Imperial College. I hope you will forgive me writing one reply in an attempt to answer all those letters, including your own.’
We’d like to think our own suggestion of a letter on this subject helped. But it was your voices and your time that mattered most, and the realisation that this was battle for everyone who loved Wye, not just those engaged directly in any campaign.
The letter from Richard Alderton says little you won’t have read here already, and confirms that the publication by save-wye of Imperial’s initial masterplan detailing the huge scale of the project was one reason the council reconsidered its position. ‘The first the Council was aware of these plans was when they were published on a web site in August,’ the letter adds. So much for the Concordats the authority signed with Imperial promising that all parties would work together.
Mr Alderton defends the authority against accusations that it did not consult properly on the draft policy. ‘The reason for this is that the formal consultation of the Core Strategy takes place once it is agreed by the Council in October… I hope it is clear, therefore, that consultation and the process of independent vetting of the Core Strategy has some way to go and will not be complete until late in 2007.’
Not that Imperial’s grand plan will even make it to the first stage. He also confirms that GeraldEve, Imperial’s consultants, wrote some of the draft strategy, but believes this is acceptable. ‘GeraldEve made comments on the draft policy and some of these we took into the draft — others we did not feel were acceptable and they were therefore not taken up. Of course, the mere fact we sought other views does not mean either that we were unduly influenced, or in any way bound by them.’
You can download the letter in full (1mb, eight pages, including a reprint of the Imperial plan first published by us) by clicking on the thumbnail below.