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Contentious £1bn 'scientific vision' scrapped

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz
Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz

THE controversial plans to build a huge science park and thousands of homes in a Kent village have been withdrawn.

Imperial College at Wye, near Ashford, had proposed to build a £1billion facility in the village, which it said would bring some 12,500 jobs to the area.

But following months of campaigning from opponents, the college announced it would not be proceeding further with the scheme.

The news will be a major victory for villagers especially the Wye Future Group, which has campaigned so strongly against the proposals.

News of the science park first broke in December last year when Imperial, Ashford council and Kent County Council signed a concordat, supporting the exploration of ideas for a new Wye Campus.

This immediately caused outrage in the village and after several heated public meetings it became clear plans for thousands of homes on greenfield sites would be strongly opposed.

Friday's statement from Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, deputy rector of Imperial College London, said: "Having considered all the issues involved, the project team has concluded that none of the scenarios for the vision would represent a wise, viable or desirable investment of public funds for Imperial College and Wye.

"As a result, the deputy rector will recommend to the college’s management board on September 29 that it should no longer pursue the scientific vision for Wye."

It continued: "I would personally like to thank the people in Wye and surrounding villages, particularly the parish council and other elected representatives, for their patience and co-operation over the last few months.

"As I said at the first public meeting in January, the views of local people would play a significant part in our decision-making process and I have appreciated the responses that have been received.

"The college remains committed to the high quality teaching that takes place at Wye and we will continue to support academic teaching activity there."

* For the full story on the end of Wye’s science park vision see next week’s Kentish Express.

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