Green issues hit expansion plan

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THE multi-million pound development at Midsummer Place could be halted in its tracks before it even gets started.

Plans were unveiled last week to build a £15 million expansion to the shopping centre, filling the hole between Hollister and Gap.

However, a clause in the original building plan for Midsummer Place dicates a ‘20 metre strip on the centre line of Midsummer Boulevard reserved for 80 years from the grant of permission for a potential public transport system’ dubbed the ‘Boulevard.’

And that strip was designed to encourage a green, environmentally friendly transport link, be it a tram system or electric bus route, in Milton Keynes.

Councillor John Bint, cabinet member for transport in Milton Keynes, has openly admitted that he doesn’t think the town needs a tram system, but admits he is keeping an open mind about the development.

“It’s well-known that I don’t think MK will ever need trams.” he said. “But exciting developments in electric buses just might create an amazing opportunity to bring passengers from the railway station and/or a park-and-ride area right into CMK and right into our shopping centre.

“We are also committed to the growing economic prosperity of MK, with CMK as the principal hub for destination retail, culture, commercial leisure and the evening economy.

“There is of course some tension in the goals of having more space for more shops and other attractions, and more space for the transport systems and parking to get people to those attractions!

“So my position on the possibility of building new shops right on that preserved transport route through Midsummer Place is that I have an open mind and I will keep an open mind until I’ve heard all the arguments from both sides.”

Helen Snooks, Senior Asset Manager at Legal & General Property, said: “We are proposing further investment into Midsummer Place Shopping Centre in order to significantly enhance the retail and food offer for our customers. In developing these proposals, we are currently in the pre-submission consultation process with both the Local Authority and other interested key stakeholders, in order to try and shape plans that best serve the interests of the local community.

“Our consultation includes engaging with the local authority’s planning, transport and highways departments in respect of their emerging policies. As part of this, Legal & General is fully aware of the legal agreements completed with the County Council when the scheme was first built and these have and will be given full consideration prior to the submission of any planning application.”

A consultation event, where people can see the plans and voice their opinions on them, is running on Friday and Saturday at Midsummer Place between 11am and 5pm. Friday’s consultation event will also see people protesting against the plans between 1pm and 1.30pm.