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SOM's £1.5 billion masterplan for Wye binned - image

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SOM's controversial masterplan for a £1.5 billion science campus in rural Kent has been scrapped by Imperial College London (ICL).

The university has decided to pull the plug on contentious plans to build a biomass and biofuel research park at its existing campus in Wye - an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The scheme, which included proposals to sell off part of the site for housing, was met with heavy criticism from local opposition groups who branded the university 'greedy' over fears that the phased development could also lead to land banking.

However ICL has now made a dramatic u-turn over the project - believed to have cost the college nearly £1 million to date - claiming that 'none of the scenarios for the vision would represent a wise, viable or desirable investment of public funds.'

Furthermore, the college has admitted it does not intend to launch a search for a new, 'replacement vision project' and that it will not be pursuing plans to expand the research and development of the campus at Wye.

The university's recommendation to shelve the campus plans is expected to be put to the college's management board on 29 September.

SOM was unavailable for comment.

by Richard Waite

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