While the fresh green landscape of Milton Keynes is full of hope and life there is one part of the city centre which is anything but! Here, at ‘the John Lewis end’ of the Grade ll-listed Shopping Building, almost all the trees and shrubs have been cut down to make way for a controversial multi-storey car park.
7 March 2017. Places for People are facing serious questions over the way dozens of mature trees were cut down in Milton Keynes today without warning, and without planning permission.
Remarkably, this was just hours after their spokesmen had assured residents at a parish council meeting that they would conduct a proper tree survey as part of upcoming plans for a new housing development. The site, next to Broughton Manor School, has had outline planning approval for some years which is due to expire. PFP are looking to renew it and to file detailed plans thereafter.
Ward councillor Catriona Morris told Xplain that she has asked MK Council enforcement officers to investigate. “It’s the most extraordinary sight,” she says, “The whole field is covered in dead trees. I don’t know if any had tree protection orders on them or not but it’s too late to save them now!”
Paul, a nearby resident, says “During the presentation by the architects for PFP I specifically asked about the established trees and was told that they were currently being assessed and the reports had not yet been completed to decide on their future. Roll on 16 hours and I come home to find that all of the trees have already been cleared by a large JCB!”
Cutting down perfectly good trees that could have added to the quality of life for new and existing residents, as well as wildlife, is not only a travesty of planning but also goes against the original ethos of Milton Keynes – the City of Trees.
Who gave the orders to chop them down and why? Places for People have got some explaining to do.
Council planning officers are still trying to silence dissenting voices and take more powers to decide applications behind closed doors.
After facing universal condemnation for trying to rush through public gagging orders last autumn the same cheeky officers have now produced a Survey Monkey ‘consultation’ which is full of loaded questions.
If you trust these people to make fair decisions, that’s fine – do nothing. But if, like Xplain, you think that local voices are vital to good development then please see our pitfall guide below, and fill in the official MK Council form before 5 pm, Weds 4 Jan. Continue reading
29 Sept 2016
Last night senior officers faced “a wall of condemnation” for trying to push through sweeping changes to planning in Milton Keynes.
If officers had succeeded, the changes would have stifled public dissent, stopped elected councillors hearing from objectors at planning committees, and handed draconian new powers to officers to approve or refuse applications without having to involve an elected committee at all! Continue reading
Did you know that retail giant Intu can stop you using the public concourse in Midsummer Place? Reasons include: wearing a hood, having a dog, sitting on something, shouting or anything else they decide is “inappropriate behaviour”.
Now the same business is preparing to privatise even more public space in the heart of Milton Keynes.
The people of Milton Keynes are unlikely to forgive or forget the sad fate of the Midsummer Oak, in Central Milton Keynes, which retail giants Intu finally carted away on 25 April 2016.
When the new city centre was laid out in the 1970’s the architects took great care to preserve this flourishing oak tree. In the 1990’s local people campaigned to save the oak when a controversial new shopping centre was built, breaking Midsummer Boulevard in two. Artists Boyd & Evans published this image of the oak tree surrounded by new shops nine years ago, before it gave up the ghost.
The famous Midsummer Oak, in 2007 (c) Boyd & Evans
Despite public objections due to visual impact, noise and damage to the beautiful, sensitive setting of Willen Hospice and Lake, plans to build a concrete works and rock/aggregate sorting plant have been approved by MK Council’s planning committee (22 March 2016).
Several councillors were unhappy but felt it was better to approve the plans, and attach conditions about landscaping, noise monitoring etc, rather than let the applicant take it to appeal. In that case, a planning inspector might overturn any refusal and not impose so many conditions.
The applicant, Mick George Ltd, made a great show of how it trains its HGV drivers to drive safely and supports local charities but naturally failed to mention it was heavily fined last year for polluting pristine brooks in Peterborough.
Who voted and how? Cllrs Brian White, Rex Exon, Carole Baume, Chris Williams, Paul Williams and Hiten Ganatra voted FOR it. Cllrs Geetha Morla, Andrew Buckley and David Lewis voted AGAINST. The chair, Cllr Andrew Geary, abstained – although this morning on BBC 3 counties radio he insisted he was against it!
Is there something wrong with the planning system? What do you think?
Watch out for reports on both BBC’s Look East news and ITV Anglian News tonight, 22 March, as MK Council’s planning committee meets to decide if the peace and beauty of Willen Lake will be preserved – or if a huge, noisy, ugly concrete works will be built just 100m from its shores.
Xplain set up the news coverage to raise awareness; as we met reporters this morning Willen Lake couldn’t have looked more peaceful. Tonight’s debate should be impassioned – and rational. Please come along to MK Council’s civic offices or click to follow our blog for news.
They might win friends by sponsoring local football clubs but the company planning to build a concrete works near Willen Lake has a murky record on pollution.
25 Feb 2016 …It might be within earshot of a hospice, Peace Pagoda and Milton Keynes’ best known beauty spot but plans to build a concrete plant near Willen Lake are set for approval on 3 March.