Historic old buildings at Wolverton Works CAN be demolished, rules judge

Wolverton Works
Wolverton Works

A last-ditch High Court battle has failed to save the historic old buildings at Wolverton railway works from demolition.

Historic England launched a legal challenge against Milton Keynes Council’s granting of planning permission to bulldoze the buildings for 375 homes plus leisure and employment facilities to be built on the site.

The public body slammed the council’s decision as “irrational” for a railway town that is steeped in history.

Judge Mr Justice Dove dismissed Historic England’s case and said the council’s decision was not illegal.

Now the development by St Modwen will go ahead, with only the gable ends of three of the old buildings preserved.

All other old structures will be demolished apart from one retaining wall and an old lifting shop.

MK Council said several of the old buildings were almost derelict and could be of no use.

A spokesman for English Heritage said: "I’m very disappointed to have to report that the High Court has declined to quash the Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the almost complete demolition of the railway works. We are considering an appeal, and I will keep you updated on that.

The planning permission granted just before Christmas therefore stands, unless the judge’s decision is overturned in a higher court.

The judge considered that the Council was, in law, entitled to come to the conclusion that the future use of one part of the site for railway-related employment and the replacement of the rest for housing outweighed the retention of the unlisted buildings for the contribution they make to the character of Wolverton.

This is very bad news for heritage conservation, because it puts other Conservation Areas at risk from the same argument, but even worse news for the sense of place of Wolverton, the world’s first railway town. "