Category Archives: wildlife at risk in MK

Government ‘reforms’ could ruin Milton Keynes in 20 years


Civic groups have issued an urgent warning to MK residents that sweeping government plans to “reform” England’s planning system would have devastating consequences for Milton Keynes – Britain’s biggest and most successful New Town.

citizens protest in sunny local park threatened with infill development
Protests like this one will be futile if the White Paper prevails

In a bid to speed up house-building the government White Paper says that all land will be classified into just three zones: areas for growth, renewal or protection. Anyone living in a growth or renewal zone, which would include most of MK, would be powerless prevent the loss of local parks, landscaped grid roads, transport corridors or wildlife refuges since, under new rules, outline planning permission will be guaranteed.

“This is development by government diktat,” says Linda Inoki, chair of Xplain. “It means that our innovative city of trees could be choked by infill development.”

What’s more, local democracy will be cut to the bone because, after MK Council hastily draws up new zoning maps and design codes, residents will have no further say. Dialogue with developers, Neighbourhood Plans, planning committee meetings and even protests will be things of the past, as all this involvement will be swept aside by centralised rules.

Local groups are not the only ones raising the alarm. The Town and Country Planning Association insists that “ripping up the planning system will not deliver the homes we need” while the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says that the overall thrust of the White Paper is “more about speeding up major planning decisions in favour of short-term business interests” rather than putting sustainability at the heart of planning reform.

Please help us save MK by sending your own message to the government and to your local MP (Iain Stewart for MK South iain.stewart.mp@parliament.uk or Ben Everitt for MK North ben.everitt.mp@parliament.uk) by 29th October.

Here is a suggested letter, but please use your own thoughts and words if possible. Submit via www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future or email planningforthefuture@communities.gov.uk

Tearing up the current planning system as proposed in the current White Paper will not deliver the affordable homes we need, and will not deliver sustainable, quality development which is crucial for people, the planet and wildlife. Please make the following changes to the White Paper:

  1. Localism needs to be retained, building on the work of Neighbourhood Planning which has been so successful in Milton Keynes. Don’t throw away all this progress which has found new sites for housing and produced locally sympathetic policies. Volunteers have spent huge amounts of time and effort creating Neighbourhood Plans, which have reduced planning battles and improved development standards.
  2. MK has a healthy supply of housing land and 16,000 new homes with planning approval. But we are waiting for developers to build all these homes. The problem with housing delivery is therefore not democratic involvement in the planning system but developers who keep land in ‘banks’ and control the housing supply to maximise demand and profits. Instead of giving builders automatic planning permission for infill development, as proposed, new policies should encourage them to build housing more quickly. Planning consents could be given deadlines before they expire and incomplete homes could be liable to Council Tax after a suitable time lapse.
  3. The duty of neighbouring boroughs to cooperate should be retained. Expansion areas just outside MK’s borders have a major impact on MK’s infrastructure, therefore cooperation, including sharing any funding from the infrastructure levy, is vital.

Conservatives back ‘Village Green Revolution’ in Milton Keynes


Springfield space under threat, 2015

If Milton Keynes Conservatives take control of the Council in this May’s elections they have pledged to start a ‘Village Green Revolution’. For several years, MK residents have been struggling to protect green open space from crowded infill housing which many fear would create slums of the future.

Village green status can include green spaces that are used for recreation, dog walking, community events and as wildlife buffers. In MK, this adds up to a healthy environment with access for all. Achieving this status gives a firm layer of protection against inappropriate planning applications but, according to the Conservatives, “the Labour-Liberal Partnership Council has been fighting residents in areas such as Woolstone, Springfield and Stantonbury for almost two years, attempting to block village green applications and spending £100,000s of taxpayers money in the process*.” 

In contrast, the Conservatives say that they will voluntarily register any green space that fits the relevant criteria and is put forward with community support.

“This will make a huge difference for communities in all grid squares of Milton Keynes who are continuously worrying about when the next housing development will be proposed on their local green space” says Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservatives in MK, adding “One of the best things about Milton Keynes is our abundance of well used green space. We should support residents who want to protect their community, not fight them.”

The announcement comes in the week Cllr Liz Gifford (Lab), Cabinet Member for Place, finally registered a number of Village Greens in Woolstone, Springfield, Bletchley and Stantonbury after sustained pressure and in recognition that ‘public confidence in the protection of the named sites has been undermined [and] should be restored.’

*Residents’ applications can shuttle between the Regulatory Committee, Cabinet member and officers for years. In some cases (eg Old Woughton Parish Council) officers have recommended refusal based on legal technicalities which members of the Regulatory Committee have eventually set aside. All this rigmarole can be avoided if MKC decides to use its right, as landowner, to voluntarily register suitable sites under Section 15(8) of the Commons Act.

Milton Keynes’ most important nature reserve threatened by land speculators


11 Aug 2017 

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve is a peaceful refuge for all sorts of wildlife, from otters to owls, but nature-lovers are in great alarm over plans to build 250 houses in the adjoining countryside. Although MK Council refused an identical planning application only this March there is a now a real chance that a repeat application will be approved.

Great Crested Grebes at Linford Lakes, by Tony Bedford.

“If this goes ahead, there will be enormous and irreversible damage to this very important ecological site and the surrounding landscape”, says Martin Kincaid, vice-president of the MK Natural History Society. He adds “We can think of nowhere in Milton Keynes less suitable for housing than here.”

What can you do? Read on…

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Labour leader defends “potentially explosive” study of open spaces in Milton Keynes which might be used for infill housing


22 June 2017

Last night the leader of MK Council defended a controversial list of green open spaces which senior planners have drawn up as part of the massive housing targets for Plan MK. Curiously, nobody seemed to know about the list, apart from an inner circle of people at MKC.

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‘Places for People’ face outrage over destroyed trees in Milton Keynes


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.

Budding horse chestnuts – axed!

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!”

Scene of devastation at Broughton Manor Farm

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.

 

 

 

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Who voted for concrete works next to Willen Lake, Milton Keynes?


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).

This 50ft high shed - just 100m from Willen Lake

This 50ft high shed – just 100m from Willen Lake

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?

Willen Lake issue on BBC and ITV news tonight as Milton Keynes Council decides


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.

 

 

Concrete works risk polluting Willen Lake, Milton Keynes?


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.

Mick George

Mick George with one of his trucks

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Listing bid puts spanner in works of concrete plant at Willen Lake Milton Keynes


Citizen piece Capture

clip from the Citizen 3/3/16

3 March 2016 …Controversial plans to build a noisy concrete works within earshot of Willen Hospice have been delayed while heritage experts consider Listing a nearby building – a 1970’s sewage plant. Continue reading

The concrete curse returns to Willen Lake, Milton Keynes


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.

Willen Lake by Eneka Stewart Photography

Willen Lake by Eneka Stewart Photography http://www.enekastewart.com/blog/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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