A former mayor of Milton Keynes begged in vain for a development plan not to take the next step forward until more information is known on the future of a key city site.
Councillor David Hopkins wanted cabinet member Cllr Mick Legg to wait and see what is decided about the route of the East West Rail before seeking the public’s views on a Development Brief for the Caldecotte Site C.
The 4.7 acres of land at the junction of Brickhill Street (V10) and Caldecotte Lake Drive sits next to the Marston Vale line between Bletchley and Bedford. And the plan says that land could be set aside for a bridge to replace the level crossing when the number of trains increases from the current one per hour.
“I beg you to think strategically,” said Cllr Hopkins (Conservative), a councillor since 2003, and the mayor in 2017-18. “If a bridge was built the site would be blighted for housing. You should keep your options open.”
Cllr Hopkins said he was also concerned that the council did not have to declare a financial interest in the site, as private citizens and councillors would have to. The site is owned by the Milton Keyes Development Partnership, which is a company set up by Milton Keyes Council.
Fellow Danesborough and Walton ward councillor, Alice Jenkins (Conservative), said: “I implore you to take a common sense approach.” She said a chronic lack of car parking in nearby residential and business areas are already blighting Caldecotte, near to Bow Brickhill railway station.
The ward councillors said new businesses are set to move into the area at the same time as a residents’ parking permit system is being introduced, potentially pushing 600 more cars out into the streets. Many already use verges bordering on the Caldecotte C city grid square to park.
Cllr Mick Legg (Labour), MK Council’s Cabinet member for customer services, has been given the power to make a delegated decision alone.
He said: “It is only going out to consultation. We can still pull the plan back and make amendments.”
Following six weeks of consultation, to begin in March, the next stage in the process is the production of an official document that sets out the future of the site, so it can be developed.
Cllr Legg was keen to make progress on deciding the future of the site because of the need to release more land for housing. He said: “There is an expectation on us to get on and deliver sites for housing.”