This website is opposed to the University of Kent's development proposals for Chaucer Fields

Economic concerns

It is clear that the Higher Education sector needs to develop a variety of income streams in response to the Browne report’s HE funding cut proposals, but there is something obscene about spending so much money on a hotel, and conference centre, when jobs, and perhaps departments will be cut at many Universitys. The government's belt tightening strategy is affecting everyone, in the interest of ‘fairness’. More student accommodation may be needed, but could be sited in other parts of the University of Kent’s large estates. Numerous infill sites closer to the main campus could be developed instead of the proposed site that may be more attractive to prospective students.

The 800 planned student bedrooms will not reduce the current number of Houses of Multiple Occupation in Canterbury. A three-bed HMO generates an average 1100 a month income for landlords charging each student on average 85 a week. Local families cannot afford to pay this. Housing benefit for a three bedroom family propery is capped below 800 a month. Rents at new student units at the 495 bedroom extension being built at Keynes, due to complete this year, will be between £118.51 to £150.08 a week. Students willl save considerably by renting off-campus.

The addition of another hotel in Canterbury may be a good idea, but is the University of Kent not exceeding its remit in proposing such investment? The University of Kent has hired 'Local Dialogue, Stakeholder Communications'. They are consultants engaged primarily in securing planning permission for large scale retail and residential developments; they do not appear to have any experience of working with the Higher Education Sector. 'Local Dialogue' state that for any proposal 'the views of opponents are either addressed or put in context.' The public relations function of 'Local Dialogue' have not addressed the key concerns of the proposal's inappropriate scale, and proximity to an established suburban area.

The generic template used for University of Kent's proposal is almost identical to that used for the Bunhill Court proposals for which 'Local Dialogue' have been hired to promote, It would seem the public relations excercise 'Local Dialogue' have been hired to conduct is also generic: a cynical strategy to attempt to appease opposition.

The Canterbury proposal's tokenistic green 'sustainability' credentials do not conceal the enormous and permanent change proposed to the site, a beautiful, much loved wildlife meadow and woodland.