One of the last, great development sites in Central Milton Keynes will be wasted if plans to build a massive multi-storey car park go ahead. The site is next to John Lewis, at the east end of the shopping centre, and has a superb outlook over Campbell Park. Thousands of people live just a short walk away and in the next few years thousands more will be coming to live and work nearby.
But Hermes, joint owners of the site, as well as of the city’s shopping centre and Food Centre, want to use it for a huge multi-storey car park aimed at out-of-town shoppers. With 1400 spaces this is more suited to an international airport than a thriving city of trees.
What’s the logic?
Hermes argue that out-of-town visitors want more convenient parking near the shopping centre (‘the centre:mk’). Their solution is a ‘destination’ car park. But why here? The idea is to drive footfall to the relatively quiet end of the Grade ll Listed shopping building, which in turn will encourage new retail development on the southern flank of John Lewis.
However CMK has plenty of surface-level parking. On most days of the week, thousands of spaces are empty; many right next to the centre:mk. Others are available in the nearby Food Centre, where Waitrose used to be, just across the road from John Lewis (see map below). So why the hurry to build another multi-storey car park when supply and demand is far from clear-cut?
- Poor access. Instead of using the dual carriageways either side of the site, Hermes want to funnel all car park traffic via a short stretch of single carriageway (Marlborough Gate). Anyone who knows MK knows this will be a nightmare for the surrounding road network. Add traffic lights to the mixture, and buses, coaches and cars will pay the price in congestion and delays.
- With over 1400 spaces this will be nearly five times bigger than CMK’s Theatre District multi-storey car park. Hermes’ vast concrete façade, would dominate the public realm and ruin the promising skyline of CMK.
- A dead-end multi-storey car park will shut down much better opportunities for the future. Residents, students and workers need a supermarket, more amenities and more interesting places at this end of town. A huge multi-storey car park, aimed at sucking in out-of-town shoppers, will do nothing for the longer term development of Milton Keynes.
Disappointingly, Hermes have rejected a far more imaginative proposal from CMK Town Council for developing the site, and have now filed their planning application.
But MK citizens, who successfully fought off Hermes’ disastrous Primark scheme last year, dislike piecemeal development and are already filing objections.
If you want to save CMK from this latest threat, it’s simple. Please object via MK Council’s planning department asap. Either use the Council’s planning portal (search for planning application 14/01628).
Or simply email the planning department via firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting ‘John Lewis multi-storey car park’. You can just say ‘I object to this development’, or outline your reasons as well. Please include your address (or house number and street if you prefer) to ensure your opinion counts.