Comment: Turning point for MK

Mark Lancaster
Mark Lancaster

OUR city is well known for roundabouts, concrete cows and grid squares.

Our location in relation to big cities such as London, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge has no doubt made Milton Keynes stand out to big businesses and our transport links have also contributed to our ‘pulling power’, sitting on the West Coast Mainline and next to the M1.

I am also sure that with the electrification of the East West Rail on the horizon, our position will be strengthened even further.

Recent reports point to Milton Keynes as having one of the fastest growing localised economies in the UK and what is particularly exciting, is that we have the capacity to expand and grow even further. Of course though, with success comes expectation and I am convinced now is the time that the leadership of the city need to ruthlessly pursue their strategic vision of Milton Keynes.

Our Core Strategy, which outlines the plans for growth over the next 5-10 years is in the process of being passed and this offers us a reasonable amount of security. I do feel, however, that as we have grown further and faster than we ever expected to since our conception in 1967, we must continue to think about how we would like to look in 20 years time.

It is vital we maintain a vibrant city centre which remains an appealing destination for people from outside the city. With a large amount of retail and food stores in the centre it is important that we focus on how to improve the environment and attractiveness of Milton Keynes for both the outlet owners and also the shoppers.

With discussions surrounding the Food Court, Midsummer Place and thecentre:mk occurring at the moment, it could well be a turning point for our city. The largest debate has been held surrounding the Secklow Gate/Primark application.

What has been made very clear is the importance of the market within the city centre. With over 16,000 signatures attached to a petition I delivered to David Hill, the council’s chief executive, asking for the market to remain in its current position I fear that this is a commodity that we have been overlooking and I am keen to help support the market traders in encouraging the council to make improvements to it.

I think now is the time where we need to continue to look holistically at all of the components of the city centre and create a vision as to how we would like them all to inter-relate.It is so often the case that we are better when we work together and I know the leader of the council, Councillor Andrew Geary and his other conservative colleagues are keen to do this.

Without taking risks and continually striving to better our city centre we run the risk of losing out on investment. I am confident that with this in mind and with continued open dialogue occurring between the council, existing businesses and new businesses considering moving to our city, that we can grow both economically and physically beyond our expectations.

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