Giant warehouse developer makes an offer that Milton Keynes planners can’t refuse

Developers behind a huge warehouse close to housing in Milton Keynes have offered to agree to a list of conditions controversially left off when permission was originally granted in 2017.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 5:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 5:22 pm
Milton Keynes Council

Residents near the new 18m tall storage and distribution warehouse in Blakelands are having to live with a much enlarged business that is now able to operate 24 hours a day.

Paul Keen, the MK Council deputy development management manager, said in a report to Thursday’s Development Control Committee: “The draft unilateral undertaking provided by the developer includes an undertaking that would ensure that the developer will not continue to implement the site under the original planning permission.”

The undertaking, made under what is known as a Section 106 agreement, has been proposed as a way of making sure that conditions left out by an ‘administrative error’ last year are given legal force. These include the times when HGVs can use the site.

Milton Keynes Council

An alternative possibility is for the committee to start a separate revocation process under section 97 of the Town and Country Planning Act. Council officers have not recommended this course of action. They say the original planning permission is a material consideration.

Mr Keen said: “Whilst officers understand the concerns raised, the additional height and bulk of the building would not be so great to warrant a reason for refusal.”

He adds that “the current application also represents a marked improvement in terms of restrictions and mitigation over and above what the original permission currently provides.”

Separately, the issue is also the subject of a judicial review that has been launched by residents.

Since being given permission, developer GUPI 6 Ltd knocked down the former 10.4m tall John Lewis warehouse and built a much bigger one that is closer to housing. It has also been moved 11 metres closer to homes in Bessemer Court.

But it seems the original 2017 permission, which is subject to an external review, was not completed with a section 106 agreement and signed. This gave planning officials the opportunity to effectively re-instate the lost conditions. The developers asked for the issue to be determined, and offered unilateral conditions, the report says.

The warehouse looms so large on the horizon that residents say it is like having a mountain in their back gardens. Council planning officers insist it is ‘in keeping with the character of the industrial estate’, and it has been given planning permission, which is a crucial consideration.

And the light and sounds of traffic movement in a re-aligned warehouse has also caused a lack of sleep, stress, and worry, as well as fears for property prices. There are also worries about traffic on the nearby Dansteed Way.

Councillors are being recommended to go for the second option, to give planning permission subject to conditions, and the GUPI 6 section 106 unilateral undertaking.

Mr Keen said: “What this means is that all of the conditions as part of this planning application would become enforceable, and any breach of these conditions would allow the council to take enforcement action where it is considered expedient to do so.”

Council highways experts say the impact of the warehouse “do not present conditions that could be termed ‘severe’.

But residents have objected in force, saying the development leads to unacceptable noise pollution leading to harm to health and enjoyment of

properties and is out-of-keeping with the area.

They also say there is pollution, unacceptable light pollution, and overlooking and loss of privacy to residential properties.