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Shuttlecock scheme’s spanner in the works

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The city’s new £22 million national badminton centre could be in jeopardy after a last minute glitch in funding, it has been claimed.

Work was set to start shortly at the National Bowl, where the ‘iconic’ new 3,000 seat arena will guarantee international sporting status for Milton Keynes.

The funding of the project depends largely upon building a money-spinning housing development at the old Badminton England base in Loughton.

But this week it was claimed the Parks Trust has refused to play ball by relinquishing their land at a discount rate – creating a £2 million shortfall in funding.

Milton Keynes Council owns 70 per cent of the 10 acre Loughton Lodge site and has pledged it to Badminton England for free .

But all the council land is currently leased to the Parks Trust on a 999 year agreement.

And the Parks Trust will not let the lease go for anything under a fair market value – despite being offered Emberton country park by the council as a ‘swap’.

A source told the Citizen: “The Parks Trust will not consider a reduced rate. This obviously affects the profits that would come from the housing development and means there is a shortfall of around £2 million for the funding of the new centre at the National Bowl.”

The source added: “It seems very short-sighted of the Parks Trust considering the amount of income and prestige that the new centre would generate for Milton Keynes in years to come.”

Parks Trust chief executive David Foster told the Citizen: “We cannot just give land away for nothing. We have a duty to the people of Milton Keynes to ensure we receive a fair market rate.”

He added: “We were willing to consider Emberton Park as a swap. As far as I knew this was going ahead.”

Ward councillor Andy Dransfield said: “If this deal collapses it would be a great shame for MK.

“We have already lost our national hockey stadium and we cannot afford to lose this badminton centre.

Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy is keeping his fingers crossed that the finances can be resolved.

He is still hoping to go ahead and build the new centre on a reduced scale if necessary.

He said: “The economic benefits of having an international sporting centre in Milton Keynes coupled with the number of jobs that will be created far outweigh the land value.

“We are determined to build a world class arena.”

 

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