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.
6 Feb 2016 According to its owners it’s a ‘poorly connected’ piece of grass and scrub which they need for executive parking. According to ecologists, landscape architects and experts of 20th century architecture, it is part of the living fabric of Britain’s most remarkable New Town – Milton Keynes – and should not be destroyed. Continue reading
Despite the urgent need to manage a 40% increase in traffic in Central Milton Keynes the Council’s latest ‘strategy’ has been slammed as an inadequate list of ideas, sprinkled with a few ‘quick fix’ options, but no evidence that any of them will actually work!
It’s not just Xplain that is horrified at Hermes’ plans to fill a prime location between John Lewis and Campbell Park with a vast, concrete multi-storey car park. Many other groups oppose it too, and add that Hermes has ignored advice offered during pre-application consultations to improve the scheme. Here are extracts from just some of the objections…
Twentieth Century Society
“Overbearing in its scale and massing…The Twentieth Century Society objects to this application, the width of which causes direct harm to the listed [shopping] building by obstructing light to the side arcades. It is unfortunate that the design fails both to respect its context and fulfil the potential of the site for a carefully designed civic building on a civic scale.”
Milton Keynes Development Partnership
“MKDP supports Hermes desire to invest in CMK, but we are keen to enter discussions with them to bring back a more appropriate and commercially viable form of development – one which addresses the Council’s policy objectives for the site and aspirations for the city. In this respect, we have offered to pool our land with Hermes land at advantageous terms and to share costs in bringing forward a joint scheme. In our view, the proposal for a standalone car park should be withdrawn by the applicants or refused by MKC.”
The Parks Trust
“The CMK skyline is a key element in determining the setting of the west end of Campbell Park and this building will not enhance it – an opportunity missed”
Milton Keynes Forum
“This is the most outstanding site left in the development of the City Centre, which can be seen from the motorway exit to Milton Keynes. Therefore any development on this site should strive to create a memorable and important building. The building proposed is …a boring square block and has none of these qualities.The vitality of the City Centre is at stake.”
Central Milton Keynes Town Council
“The multi-storey car park is too big, access is hugely problematic and there are no active frontages. Furthermore, the proposal to use this prime development site solely for parking undermines the strategic objectives for CMK as stated in the Core Strategy and also contravenes many local and national planning policies.” The Town Council even produced New Horizons, a detailed alternative, to show what could be built on this important site (image below).
What do you think? Should MK Council heed the warnings and refuse this deeply flawed scheme?
Why? Because Hermes, the developer, plans to put traffic lights on a major bus route just to get cars in and out of this massive 1416-space car park.
Instead of providing several points of access off surrounding dual-carriageways, Hermes has insisted on using a short, narrow stretch of single-lane road (Marlborough Gate) as the sole entrance. Marlborough Gate is a vital link in the grid road system used by thousands of people every day.
After MK Council transport officers said the resulting congestion was unacceptable, and could even endanger the travelling public, the applicant has made last minute attempts to ‘square the circle’ by adding even more traffic lights and tacking a short queuing lane on the side of the road.
But it will only take 6 or 7 cars waiting here before traffic backs up to a nearby T-junction and jams up another busy bus route – Midsummer Boulevard!
Deliberately interrupting traffic flow through CMK, both for passing cars and thousands of bus-users, can hardly be described as sustainable development.
Especially when MK Council is desperate to wean people off their cars and into public transport in order to avoid grid-lock around CMK. Around 25,000 people travel to work in CMK every day, and thousands more are expected in the next few years.
Outside London, CMK is the biggest area of planned employment growth in the region. One of its biggest assets is free-flowing traffic. What is the point of damaging this regional asset, and sacrificing future transport efficiency, for a private car park which cuts across adopted strategy?
Ironically, MK Council has just paid transport experts to come up with fresh ways of using all the empty parking spaces in CMK and trialling new kinds of public transport.
The planning committee makes the final decision on 8 Jan. Please come along to the public gallery, Civic Offices, 7 pm, to hear the debate. Will MK Council use all the planning and transport policies at its disposal to turn down this damaging scheme? Or will it open up this parking ‘Pandora’s Box’?
PARKING BOMBSHELL FOR CENTRAL MILTON KEYNES
1 Dec 2014
MK Council is planning to hike parking charges in CMK: up from 40p to 50 p per hour for purple standard rate bays, and from £1.40 to £2.00 per hour for red ‘premium’ bays. The cost of buying CMK employee permits will also go up, as discounts will be cut from 50% to 25% by 2017/18.
These details are in the draft budget due for Council discussion 8 Dec. and open to public ‘consultation’ until end Jan. But last time the Council hiked rates to this extent, in 2011, they simply ignored warnings from businesses, workers and residents and the result was acres of empty parking spaces. People voted with their wheels. Trade fell in the city centre, and just as predicted, hard-pressed workers migrated to nearby residential roads searching for free parking, which still causes problems for people living near CMK.
However, if people do eventually pay up, this would raise Council parking income to £14m p.a. with some of the surplus used to invest in more off-street parking.
MK News recently launched a ‘Fair Parking’ campaign to bring the plight of office workers to the attention of MK Council. But has this given the Council the perfect ‘excuse’ to raise rates? The consolation prize is providing another 2,000 parking spaces. But where would they be? When delivered? And what form would they take? Hopefully not a lifeless, multi-storey car park on a prime site. Or a badly-lit, litter-strewn temporary car park, which makes a shabby welcome to CMK.
Local Tory leader Edith Bald has hit out saying the price hikes will ‘seriously damage the economy of the city centre’ and, by implication, of the entire region. CMK is the engine of the regional economy, but it’s already in danger of stalling due to competition from the uncontrolled rise of out of town developments (offering free parking) and failed parking and public transport policies.
This year, MK Council started a full parking review for CMK, promising an entire package of smart solutions to be revealed in 2015. But judging by this latest bombshell, let’s hope the current Labour cabinet, just like the Lib-Dems in 2011, have not been blinded by fool’s gold!
Note: xplain is not linked to any political party – we just tell it like it is.