Apathy greets new neighbourhood planning project in Central Milton Keynes

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ONE of England’s most ambitious new neighbourhood planning projects – in Milton Keynes – has been greeted with apathy and scepticism.

The Central Milton Keynes Alliance (CMKA) is working on deciding how the centre of the new city keeps a strong economy.

The CMKA is led by a group of eight councillors and eight business leaders, chaired by Dr Rebecca Kurth,of Central Milton Keynes Town Council.

Dr Kurth told a meeting of City Breakfast Club today (Tuesday, May 2) the planning regime being set up under the Localism Act in Milton Keynes was “the most ambitious neighbourhood plan in the country, without a doubt.”

One of the aims of the new plan, for the area bounded by the railway line, Campbell Park, Portway and Child’s Way, is to encourage economic growth. It will eventually be subject to two referendums among businesses and residents before formal adoption by Milton Keynes Council.

But the reaction of business leaders at the morning meeting was less than enthusiastic.

Jonathan Vowles, who has his own accountancy firm, said: “The whole thing is doomed to crash and burn because of general apathy.

“We elect councillors to do this kind of thing on our behalf.” Only a handful of businesses have responded so far to the process and just 25 people have made comments on www.cmkalliance.co.uk

The process of setting up a hugely complex planning regime has a budget of £50,000. This compares with a cost of £500,000 for drawing up the equivalent framework 10 years ago.

Theo Chalmers, who chairs planning pressure group Urban Eden, said plans for more and more shops in Midsummer Place, Secklow Gate and the Point meant the city centre was already in the process of destroying itself.

> The next business forum meeting of the CMKA will be held on Thursday, July 19 at Centrecom, in North Row.