CMK Town Council calls for the centre:mk to withdraw plans
Independent experts have slammed thecentre:mk’s plans to move MK Market onto almost the worst possible site in order to build a Primark over Market Square in Central Milton Keynes. The site is 40% smaller than the market’s current location and is currently public highway, housing a taxi rank and disabled parking, which would also have to move out of the way.
Major problems include lack of space, no weather protection, and endangering both traders and the public. Quarterbridge Projects, authors of the report, are national experts in market development and they insist that operating a cramped market next to busy traffic on Midsummer Boulevard puts people at risk.
The report concludes that: “The design fails to address many of the most fundamental requirements for the proper operational management of a new Market and the safety of operational staff, traders and shoppers. It attempts to create as much trading space as possible as cheaply as possible on as small a site as possible and in the process introduces unnecessary Health & Safety risks which could easily be overcome on a more suitable site.”
This is in stark contrast to thecentre:mk’s extensive publicity campaign which has been promising a “new, purpose-built location” for the market “which will provide a huge boost to accessibility for shoppers and traders.”
“This [new report] confirms everything we’ve been saying all along,” says Mark Kunder, who has built up one of the largest stalls in the market, a tool and DIY stall, over many years. “As soon as I saw the plans I knew it would kill off the market,” says Mr Kunder, adding, “If the Council wants a market in CMK it has to stay exactly where it is. Of course it could be improved, and we have lots of ideas, but first we’ve got to win this battle for our survival. We’re very grateful that the public at large is rallying to our defence and signing our petition to stay in Market Square.”
Market traders began a petition on 26 January and have been overwhelmed with the level of public support. In just three weeks nearly 19,000 people have signed the petition to keep the bridge, market and grid road system intact.
MP Mark Lancaster received the first batch of 10,000 signatures recently and assured traders that “A strong, vibrant market is a must for MK,” adding “I’m concerned that a whole series of bit-piece applications are coming in that are not in the broad plan or interests of Milton Keynes.”
“It would be far better for everyone if thecentre:mk would now withdraw their plans to demolish this vital part of CMK and focus on redeveloping the near-empty Food Centre. That way we could have new jobs, new shops and keep the grid road system and market at the heart of Milton Keynes,” says Dr Rebecca Kurth, chair of CMK Town Council. She added “Clearly the vast majority of MK residents want to keep this part of CMK as designed, with Secklow Gate Bridge flying through the shopping building, and the market as a vital retail and community focus in the public square below.”
The plans will be decided or rejected on Thursday 21st Feb in a public meeting at MK Council chamber starting at 7.00pm. Local Councillors speaking against the plans include John Bint (Con, Middleton), Margaret Burke (Lab, Stantonbury) Paul Williams (Lab, Campbell Park) and Ric Brackenbury (Lib Dem, Linford South). Cllr Brackenbury says, “I don’t think I have ever had so many objections to a single planning application. The council received over 700 direct comments from members of the public, and states that only one of these was in favour.”
Even so, the Development Control Committee must weigh the evidence carefully and decide which course of action is in the best interests of Milton Keynes.
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