The Save Chaucer Fields Group was set up in 2011 in response to proposals from the University of Kent to build a significant amount of student accommodation and a hotel and conference centre on the Southern Slopes below University Road.
We and local residents have carried out an active campaign to save the slopes for future generations to use. Our activities include:
• voicing objections to the original 2011 planning application, including an extensive portfolio of evidence to support the objections,
• raising the profile of this essential green space and gained support from local politicians,
• submission of a Village Green Application, that was taken to a Public Inquiry in 2015.
We feel we have been successful in highlighting to the University of Kent, the strength of feeling from local residents to preserve the fields for the benefit of all and to protecting a very important semi-natural environment.
University of Kent campus Master Plan Consultation June 2016
We are pleased to say that the University of Kent is now engaging with local Residents’ Associations. They are developing a Master Plan of their ideas for the future of their estate for the next 50 years. The aim is create “the best Garden Campus in the UK”. They want to concentrate most development at the ‘campus heart’.
The Southern Slopes are incorporated into an area the planners call ‘The Parklands’ The University acknowledges what the slopes bring to Canterbury, residents, students and the University saying ‘ The Parklands - the green open space that surrounds the existing heart of the University - are a great asset in providing a green setting to the University and as a landscape demarcation from the City’. But they also say ‘However, the Parklands will also provide a location for the continued development of new buildings and other facilities as and when appropriate’.
The proposals still keep open the possibility of building a conference centre at some time in the future, with perhaps 150 bedrooms, on the fields, and one is shown on the map below. It's important to recognise that this is not at present a definite proposal, but residents would of course still wish to preserve and protect the fields. Some residents have suggested that a more suitable location for a conference centre would be north of the University Road, perhaps near the Innovation Centre or Beverly Farmhouse.
Initial UKC Proposals for the development of the slopes
The first phase of the Concept Master Plan Consultation is to gather feedback about the proposals from interested people by mid August. The University will carry out more technical design work, consider the comments received, and present a preferred option for further consultation in the Autumn. It is available on-line now at www.kent.ac.uk/masterplan/our-vision.html. The University would like to get the Master Plan included as possible supplementary planning guidance to the emerging Local Plan, so it is important that you feed into this initial consultation if you have any views or suggestions about the proposals.
Village Green Public Inquiry
The wait is over. The long-delayed Public Inquiry for our Village Green Application to protect ‘Chaucer Fields’ starts on 23rd February. You can make a donation today at justgiving.com. This will be used to present the case for those opposed to the proposed development. Also see the donations page.
We originally submitted the application in April 2011. The preliminary hearing took place in September 2012, and the KCC Panel decided to hold a Public Inquiry, for an independent Inspector to consider the evidence. The holding of the Inquiry was then held up by a legal wrangle over what evidence we could submit and how far back we could go. Now, at last, the Inquiry is about to happen.
It will take place from Monday 23rd February to Friday 27th February, starting at 10 am each day, in the Westgate Hall, Canterbury. It will then adjourn for two weeks, and resume on Monday 16th March for as much of that week as is needed to hear all the evidence. We have to show that the fields have been used ‘as of right’ by local people, for recreational purposes, for a period of at least 20 years. We have more than 20 oral witnesses who, we know, will provide strong evidence that the fields have been used in that way – and we all know that they have. Their evidence will be backed up by about 20 written statements, along with all the questionnaire replies and letters written by so many of you since this whole process started.
We can’t be at all certain of the outcome, but we know that we have a strong case, and it would be good if you could show that you think so too. The Inquiry is open to any members of the public. If you can spare any time to attend, do come and listen to what is said, and show your support. Only the scheduled witnesses and the two legal teams will be entitled to speak, but a good public attendance will all help to show how much local people value the fields, and how important it is to us to preserve them for future generations.
Current Planning Application to expand Kent Business School in Parkwood
We’ve always been concerned that it is only a matter of time before The University submits a new planning application for its proposed hotel and conference centre on Chaucer Fields as presented to the public in September 2012. The University’s determination to eventually build on Chaucer Fields was recently demonstrated in a planning application they made to extend the Kent Business School situated in Parkwood. Their architects have carried out an extensive site selection process which involved assessing 23 potential development sites within The University’s landholdings.
These include the whole of the Southern Slopes which have been split up into three separate sites: Southern Slopes - East, Southern Slopes - Central and Southern Slopes - West. There are some revealing but rather alarming statements in the assessments:- “The site is within easy walking distance of the centre of campus and reasonable walking distance to the City Centre” ----------- “This is a large area of land which in physical terms has the capacity to accommodate a significant amount of development” ---------- “As previously un-developed land, this area is relatively unconstrained in terms of the physical built environment and could be developed with little disruption to the University operations”.
The assessment acknowledges that because part of the area is the subject of a “Village Green Application”, they are currently not suitable to consider for development of the Kent Business School.
However, these assessments certainly demonstrate that despite the delay since the new hotel / conference proposals were presented to the public in September 2012, the University has not given up on their desire to use the fields for development at sometime in the future. This reinforces why we need a SAVE CHAUCER FIELDS campaign and why the support of local residents and other interested members of the public are so important!!
You can make a donation today at justgiving.com. This will be used to present the case for those opposed to the proposed development.
Many thanks to all who have already given support to our campaign, and we hope that when the time comes the whole community will join with us to vigorously campaign to Save Chaucer Fields for the benefit of our all in our community and for future generations.
What is The ‘Save Chaucer Fields’ Campaign?
The Save Chaucer Fields Group is an alliance of local Residents’ Associations campaigning to save the green open space known as the Southern Slopes south of the University of Kent for the benefit of the whole community, and to preserve the much valued and historic landscape for future generations.
In November 2010, the University of Kent (UKC) made it known that it wished to build a large complex comprising 7 blocks for student accommodation and a 150 bedroom hotel / conference centre – destroying this beautiful scenic green area, and the many trees and hedgerows that have been in existence for over 200 years.
Residents including students have come together to save this land from development. The University of Kent’s Canterbury campus is a large beautiful campus of over 300 acres. We support the University in being a viable successful business and education facility, but believe there are many more suitable locations on central campus where student accommodation and conference facilities can be placed.
The University of Kent submitted a Planning Application for the development in March 2011. However due to the high level of opposition to the scheme, they asked the City Council to defer The Application and after 18 months of delay, in September 2012 they withdrew the application.
After Public Consultation for a revised scheme, they submitted a Planning Application for student accommodation on central campus in October 2012 which was approved in March 2013. But, they still want to build a 150 bedroom hotel / conference centre and 158 annex bedroom suites suitable for post graduate students or conference delegates, on Chaucer Fields.
View larger Google Map of Chaucer Fields in a new window
Your photos & enjoyment of the fields
We often review and update this web-site. We want to add your old photos that you have taken of the fields (views, scenery and your enjoyment) on our web-site and Facebook to show how important and beautiful this land is to Canterbury and its residents including students. If you have any photos please email them to us. Or if you can’t scan in your photo you can drop it round to us.
Village Green Application
We have worked together to save this land. Our current main focus is applying to make the southern slopes and fields (now referred to as Chaucer Fields) a village green. A Public Inquiry about this is due to be held on the week starting 18th March. For more information please click on this link. …
If we are successful this land will be saved for future generations.
We notified many Canterbury residents when the initial planning application was submitted in 2011. We also sent a petition to Canterbury Council. We compiled a folder of very thorough evidence and objections why planning should not be agreed, and sent it to Canterbury Council and the local councillors.
Our campaign succeeded in making The University rethink its plans and in September 2012 it withdrew the original application. When a new Planning Application is submitted we will thoroughly examine it and submit our case to Canterbury City Council.
Communication & Campaign materials
We have sent a variety of newsletters and letters to supporters, residents and local councillors and other bodies. We also send press releases to local newspapers when relevant, and keep our web-site and Facebook pages updated.
Everyone helping in the campaign is a volunteer, giving up their time to help save the fields. We do have costs to bear that we need help with. Thank-you to everyone for their donations to date, but we still have some major expenses to incur as we need legal representation at the Public Inquiry. Your past donations have been used for:
- Legal advice in objecting to the original Planning Application.
- Professional printing costs for presentation of our objection document to the City Council and to Councillors who sit on the Planning Committee.
- Hall hire for public awareness presentations and fund raising events.
- Printing and distribution of Newsletters.
We are fighting our case against a very large business. The University of Kent published in its July 2011 Financial Statements that it has an income of £182 million and had a £15 million surplus.
Fund raising is ongoing and we need to raise a substantial sum to fund the Village Green Public Inquiry as well as a revised Planning Application when it is submitted.
To make a donation towards our barrister costs, or if you have any fundraising ideas please click on the donations link…
The campaign and this website have been developed in liaison with students from the University of Kent and the numerous opponents to the proposed plans that would remove a vital greenfield amenity space from Canterbury.