An alliance of businesses and residents in Milton Keynes have pieced together a blueprint for how they would like the new city’s central district to develop until 2026.
The CMK Alliance vision includes a prime site for an expanded university campus, a new Market Hall for independent retailers, in addition to the outdoor market, and a CMK Shuttle service to zip around the inner grid system.
After a year of sometimes fraught, table-banging negotiations the CMK Alliance presented its vision of how Milton Keynes could develop at the glittering new Network Rail HQ in early October.
Most controversially the Alliance has come down in favour of retaining the city’s unique design and infrastructure, including grid roads and green spaces. The organisation’s editor and master planner, Robert de Grey, told the meeting that he could not envisage circumstances where the grid system would be compromised.
The plan is a long way from being approved and its policy of defence of the grid system could be compromised if Milton Keynes Council passes an application to build a £40million Primark through Secklow Gate Bridge.
The Alliance is also putting retention of green spaces high on the agenda and sees a need for more places and spaces for social, cultural and sporting activities to enrich community life
If the plan passes an independent evaluation, it will go to a double-headed referendum sometime in the new year, possibly as early as the spring. Businesses and residents will have a separate poll. If the plan passes the vote it will be the top planning policy document for the whole of central Milton Keynes.
The Milton Keynes Business Neighbourhood Plan is a first in the country and has Whitehall bigwigs watching every stage.
There are more than 60 hectares (150 acres) of land still available for new, or further development in the CMK and Campbell Park grid squares.
The plan is out for public and business consultation until December 7.
For details of the plan, how to make comments and consultation events in the city centre, visit www.cmkalliance.co.uk
Paul Hunt, co-chair of the Alliance and MD of John Lewis, said: “We’ve tried hard to get the balance right between the need for growth and change, and the need to keep CMK special, and true to itself.
“It’s been refreshing to have a frank dialogue between business and residents over many months. We all agree that CMK has a unique appeal, as a spacious, highly convenient local and regional centre. We want to build on its strengths, while helping to generate the next wave of growth.”
Rebecca Kurth, who chairs CMK Town Council, said: “One of the great advantages of the new plan is that it gives clear guidance to would-be developers about what works for CMK. This should reduce controversy and delays and encourage growth. We now have the roadmap and a clear direction, but this is no time to sit back and relax. Many town centres across Britain are in decline so we have to keep moving forward, and this is where we need the public to stay involved and continue the journey.”