Protests force Imperial to ditch Kent expansion

Imperial College London has abandoned plans for a £1 billion expansion of its Wye campus in Kent after sustained local protests.

It had planned a massive development, including a science park supporting 12,500 jobs and 4,000 new homes, and had signed a concordat with Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council in 2005. But the scheme ran into opposition when it was revealed it would involve building on the Kent Downs, a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.

Leszek Borysiewicz, deputy rector of Imperial, said: "We have concluded that none of the scenarios for the vision would represent a wise, viable or desirable investment of public funds for Imperial and Wye. We have no current plans to expand research and development at Wye, and we will not be instigating a search for a replacement to the vision project."

Imperial merged with the former agricultural college in 2000. It has since closed the department of agricultural sciences there, leaving a joint applied business management programme with Kent University the only remaining undergraduate degree.

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