Tag Archives: destruction of CMK

Taxpayers foot £2m bill for ‘The Hub’. Yet despite “lessons learnt” Milton Keynes Council aims for another at Saxon Gate.


Despite a rise in traffic jams, accidents and parking issues around the ‘Hub’ development in Central Milton Keynes, and the £2.1m cost of altering highways*, MK Council (MKC) is gearing up for a similar project at Saxon Gate.

Designed by Milton Keynes Development Corporation architects to suit the ethos of MK.

Saxon Court (right) in classic CMK layout

Saxon Gate is one of the busiest gateways to CMK. Here, opposite Debenhams, the Council owns Saxon Court; a subtle piece of Modernist architecture it now wishes to sell. But instead of promoting the most sustainable option (to refurbish the heritage building and develop the empty site at the back) the Council’s Draft Development Brief firmly steers would-be investors to option 3.

‘Son of Hub’ for Saxon Gate?

This is to demolish Saxon Court and build a huge new development right up to the grid road, wiping out most of the side streets. If these tributaries of the grid road network disappear, they take with them:

  • direct access to and from the grid road (Saxon Gate)
  • 400 public parking spaces
  • dedicated footpaths and cycle routes
  • around 140 mature trees.

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Is CMK destined for another Soviet-style project, looming over bleak, deforested boulevards? Will frustrated drivers stop on grid roads to drop off a parcel or pick up a passenger, jamming up traffic and causing accidents?

Deliveries to The Hub

Daily jams at The Hub

Unless Council leaders persist in this corporate amnesia there is still time to change the development brief.

PLEASE SEND YOUR VIEWS on the future of Saxon Gate to MK Council by the consultation deadline of 5 pm Fri, 16 Feb to this officer:
david.blandamer@milton-keynes.gov.uk

Why not copy your Ward Councillors too? You can find them on the Council website via find my Councillors

* “Lessons Learnt”, published by MKC’s Urban Design Department, 2011

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Intu tries to stop Guardian journalist in Milton Keynes. Could you be next?


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”.

your pavement - or theirs?

your pavement – or theirs?

Now the same business is preparing to privatise even more public space in the heart of Milton Keynes.
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‘Scrub’ fit for parking or precious green space in Milton Keynes?


Tarmac or trees? Norfolk House, CMK (c) HvA

2nd garden for the chop between Norfolk House & YMCA housing, CMK (c) HvA

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

Is Milton Keynes Council bungling its way to gridlock (while making parking money on the side)?


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!

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Is democracy dead in Milton Keynes?


14 Sept 2015.

A handful of Milton Keynes Councillors, “pushed” by supposedly neutral officers, have just shredded the most ambitious Neighbourhood Plan in the country – less than 100 days after it won a historic, landslide vote at a public referendum.

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Stand by the Plan rally, CMK

Despite town planners, town councillors, business leaders and local people urging MK Council to ‘Stand by the Plan’ MK Council has failed the public at its very first test. If democracy isn’t dead in Milton Keynes it’s certainly on life support!

The crisis has been triggered by a rogue planning application by retail giant ‘intu’ to build over public open space and infrastructure that is clearly protected in the CMK Business Neighbourhood Plan. Even though intu could have built their new shops nearby, without flouting the CMK Plan, they lobbied hard and got their own way. This amounts to a land-grab, which slashes public rights of way and space set aside for a new public transport route by 40%.

Only two councillors, John Bint (Conservative) and Chris Williams (Lib-dem), stood by the Plan and voted against intu’s proposals. The others betrayed the trust of 90,000 people and nearly 400 businesses who voted ‘Yes’ for the Plan and for a decent, joined-up development strategy that would have brought thousands of new homes and jobs to Milton Keynes.

Unless we urgently ask the Secretary of State to overturn this unsound decision it means that:

  • No neighbourhood plan in the entire country, let alone in Milton Keynes, is worth the paper it’s written on.
  • No public open space, green or otherwise, is safe from infill development.
  • No grid road, boulevard, public square or public parking area is safe either
  • And MK’s unique, master-planned city of trees is once again open to attack from poor, short-term, piecemeal development, whether for housing, retail, offices or leisure.

Business leaders who voted for the Plan are reportedly dumbfounded.

David Foster head of Parks Trust stands by the Plan

David Foster head of Parks Trust stands by the Plan

David Foster, chief executive of the Parks Trust (which owns a third of all land in CMK) didn’t pull his punches. Before making their decision he told the planning committee that “Neighbourhood plans are designed to provide much needed clarity to investors and developers, and reassurance to residents that the right types of development will be built in the right place. What is the point of people all over this borough working so hard to prepare neighbourhood plans, and to get them through referenda and to get them adopted, if this is how the council treats them? It sends a terrible signal. We understand that the officers are trying to encourage development and investment. Hats off to Intu for wanting to invest in CMK. But shame on the Council if it disregards the business neighbourhood plan in such a callous way and allows a chunk of prime public space to be built over.”

As for local volunteers – who trudged miles delivering 35,000 information leaflets in the run-up to the referendum – their trust in the government’s promise of ‘local plans for local people’ has been betrayed. And the contagion is spreading. Campbell Park Parish Council has called an immediate halt to producing their own Neighbourhood Plan and other parishes may follow suit.

If, like many others, you believe MK Council has made a serious mistake, please write an urgent email to the National Planning Casework Unit asking the Secretary of State (the Right Hon. Greg Clark, MP) to review the decision. Here’s how:

cc:  xplain.mk@gmail.com
Subject:  Request SOS to Stand by the CMK Business Neighbourhood Plan
Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing to request that you stand by the CMK Business Neighbourhood Plan by calling-in the recent planning decision by Milton Keynes Council (15/01074/OUT).  This decision
– broke key policies in the Plan to protect public open spaces
– was biased because the Council chose its own policies over those produced by local people in the Neighbourhood Plan
– makes all Neighbourhood Plans everywhere pointless.
The Council’s actions are a breach of public trust among the 90,000 voters, like me, who believe in local plans for local people.
Yours faithfully,
(Name/address)
UPDATE: The decision was called in, and an independent planning inspector is holding a public inquiry at Christ the Cornerstone Church, CMK, from 6 – 13 Sept. Contact Xplain for more info.

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Massive car-buncle threatens Milton Keynes!


JL carpark 3DOne 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?

There are other serious questions about Hermes’ plans, including:JL carpark site view

  • 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.

Stop light

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 anna.holloway@milton-keynes.gov.uk, 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.

JL carpark elevation

View from Campbell Park of the massive concrete facade.

row over CMK Primark gears up


The centre mk continues to perform verbal acrobatics on the high-wire of truth. See this week’s MK News front page and website with the headline “Two sides prepare for war over MK Primark”.

Just how much are they offering to spend on this ‘investment’? Last December it was £30m. Now it’s £40m. They don’t say how much of the £30m (or £40m) would be spent tearing down Secklow Gate bridge, ripping out 50 boulevard trees, and making Midsummer Boulevard, the city’s main bus route, into a single-lane highway with a zebra crossing over it.

As for new jobs, last year it was 400. Now it’s 450.

How many jobs are at risk in the market? They don’t say. But the National Market Traders Federation is more forthcoming. They have warned MK Council that if the 220 market traders have to move from Market Square to the much smaller, inferior site proposed, MK Market would “wither and die”. That means an average of 390 jobs, and more than jobs, livelihoods, are at risk.

Yet if the centre mk would only turn their attention to the near-empty Food Centre, just yards away, which they also own, we could have it all – new jobs and old, public infrastructure intact, and a magnificent Grade 11 listed building left in peace. Oh, and for those that like it, a new Primark too!