Online battle over new £28m development in heart of historic Milton Keynes town

An online battle has been raging between opponents and supporters of a multi-million pound plan to transform the heart of Wolverton.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 10:15 am

Love Wolverton is planning to replace the battered Agora shopping centre and its car park with 115 new homes and to replicate a narrow Victorian road called Radcliffe Street.

The consultation deadline passed on Thursday, March 4 with scores of representations recorded on Milton Keynes Council’s website from members of the public lined up in opposition and support for the proposals.

“Wolverton will be the only small town within Milton Keynes without both a car park and a toilet,” says Joan Foster, of Maisies in Church Street.

The Agora Centre in Wolverton

“I agree that in an ideal world people should be walking, cycling and using public transport but they do not.

“Most families have a car and they use it to go shopping. More parking must be allowed for.

“Without parking we do not have customers, without customers we do not have shops, without shops we do not have the thriving, vibrant town which we all desire.”

And Ms Gabriele Stutz, while agreeing with the need to regenerate Wolverton and to re-establish a vibrant, functioning town centre, urged developers agents TOWN to “look again at their proposed parking provision.”

Artist's impression

“If regeneration is not to result in degeneration of an existing very real problem, at least in the short/medium term, it is imperative, in my opinion.”

Urging realism and compromise, scheme supporter Lisa Watson said: “While I share some of those concerns, I believe that it is important to be realistic.

“If what the developers say is true – and it would be good to press on this – and the project is only viable in its current form, then it absolutely must go ahead.”

And Arthur Mist, a resident of Western Road, said: “I really welcome this opportunity to bring new life in to the town centre, reconnect the old grid and remove the Agora.

Artist's impression

“My preference would be for more apex roofs similar to the other three story buildings in the town but it’s not a deal breaker for me.”

Wolverton resident Steve Revill-Darton believes that the architecture and urban design of the scheme is “exemplar and stands out against the majority of housing development in Milton Keynes in terms of its consideration of its context, its materiality and the quality of design.”

He adds: “This is an incredibly valuable opportunity for Wolverton and I hope that permission is granted for this scheme.”

A decision on the planning application is now pending following closure of the official consultation period and the council’s “determination deadline” of Tuesday, March 16.

And later this month, on March 23, a cabinet councillor is due to make a decision on the next steps including “funding proposals for additional public parking and high street improvements.”

The supporting documents for Cllr Rob Middleton’s decision are due to be released to the council’s website next week.

Cllr Middleton (Wolverton) is the Labour cabinet’s member for budget and resources.