Parks to be sold off for housing?

Areas of MK possibly being sold by Parks Trust as development areas
Areas of MK possibly being sold by Parks Trust as development areas
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A CHARITABLE Trust formed to protect the countryside in Milton Keynes could be developing 32 of its scenic sites for housing, the Citizen can reveal.

Milton Keynes Parks Trust has submitted a list of spaces totalling 45 acres – most of it near Willen Lake – to be considered by the council for housing or commercial development.

Areas of MK possibly being sold by Parks Trust as development areas

Areas of MK possibly being sold by Parks Trust as development areas

This week the Trust’s chief executive David Foster urged residents not to panic.

“We are still committed to preserving all the parks, lakes and open spaces that make Milton Keynes so special,” he said.

“We are being totally open about the sites submitted. None of them are considered to be an integral part of the parks system or highly valued by the public.”

Many are small pockets of land inherited by the Parks Trust, said Mr Foster.

Areas of MK possibly being sold by Parks Trust as development areas

Areas of MK possibly being sold by Parks Trust as development areas

But dominating the list is a “potential development” totalling 36 acres near Willen Lake. It has not yet been decided whether this development would be residential or commercial.

As well as 5,000 acres of countryside, the Trust owns an impressive portfolio of commercial property, and the list features four pubs –the Countryman at Bradwell Common, Heeland’s Suffolk Punch, the Blacksmith’s Arms on Downs Barn and The Clocktower at Emerson Valley.

Other sites include a paddock at Woughton on the Green used for training police horses, land at Furzton and Mount Farm lakes and the Dinosaur Park at Peartree Bridge

All the suggested sites will need planning permission from Milton Keynes Council and will be subject to statutory public consultation.

The Parks Trust submission was prompted by a council letter to all city landowners, asking for land that could be developed by 2026 under the new Site Allocation Development Plan.

The benefit to the Parks Trust will be hard cash which, says Mr Foster, will “secure and enhance” the remainder of the city’s green space for future generations.

“Like any individual or organisation we have to protect our long-term financial position in this day and age. If we fail to invest now we might find ourselves struggling to look after Milton Keynes’ countryside in 100 years time.”

The Trust, which is currently investing more cash into building in Glasgow, recently inherited another 445 acres of local land from the Home and Communities Agency.