Cash-strapped Milton Keynes Council to sell off old housing office ... to build more housing

Cash-strapped MK Council is proposing to sell off its old housing offices in the heart of the city centre - to turn them into housing.

Friday, 19th January 2018, 6:30 am

Saxon Court would be bulldozed to make way for a taller and bigger building that critics already fear could resemble nearby blocks of flats at The Hub.

Linda Inoki, chair of Xplain campaign group said: “We think the Hub is a by-word for bad planning. Saxon Court is part of our world-class infrastructure that attracts people, investment and infrastructure to MK. It should not be changed.”

But the council sees its redundant offices, nestled on the corner of Avebury Boulevard and Saxon Gate as a prime development opportunity.

Once housing two of its core functions - housing and social services - the building has been vacated over the past three years with the intention of generating income by renting it out.

Part of it is currently rented by the University Campus Milton Keynes (UCMK).

This month the council published a development brief, giving options for the building, the land surrounding it and its 22 space car park.

The preferred options are a new three to four storey structure for residential and educational use.

Xplain claims these options would repeat the alleged “mistakes” of the Hub, by obliterating three out of the four public highways that currently flow around Saxon Court.

This would push pedestrians to the edge of Avebury Boulevard, cut off residents on South Row and squeeze all local traffic including deliveries for this massive new development onto one small side raod - South 8th Street.

The Council’s Urban Design department, which prepared the plan, believes their preferred option would deliver “significant benefits in place-making” and a new landmark building.

Xplain disagrees. “Decent architecture will achieve that,” said Linda Inoki.

“It’s the Hub all over again! Incredibly, having admitted a few years ago that the Hub was a planning disaster, the same officers are cheerleading ‘Son of the Hub’. This isn’t ‘place-making’ it’s place-breaking.”

Already set to object, Xplain has came up with an artist impression of what it would look like - by superimposing The Hub flats in its place.

Council leader Pete Marland said: “As part of reducing the council’s costs, we’re reducing the number of buildings we run. nothing has been decided on Saxon Court but whatever happens we will be working with partners to find an appropriate use for either the existing building or the site.”