Is Primark too good to refuse?

How the Primark development would look
How the Primark development would look

COUNCILLORS may defy the advice of their officers and the wishes of thousands of residents and give permission for a new Primark in CMK – because the deal is too good to refuse.

The £40million investment promising new jobs for Milton Keynes was this week given the thumbs down by council officers.

They have recommended the bid to build a new Primark at thecentre:mk be refused because of the effect it would have on market traders and local heritage.

But rebel councillors could still defy the officers’ recommendation and give the go-ahead.

The Citizen understands several members of the development control committee could vote pro Primark at a special meeting of the development control committee next Thursday.

All have the power to ignore the officers’ views and pass the planning application regardless.

“We have to weigh the economic benefit this would bring against the upset it would cause to certain residents and traders,” said one councillor.

An approval would incur the wrath of the Primark protesters, including the market traders who would be forced to move their pitch if the 90,000 sq ft building went ahead.

They have rejected a new site 100 yards away offered by centre:mk management.

Meanwhile heritage campaigners complain the three-storey Primark and the necessary demolition of Secklow Bridge would ruin the character of the Grade 11 listed centre – which was built in 1979.

Council officers say the loss of the bridge would cause “substantial harm to the heritage assets” of the centre, while the loss of the market would cause “economic harm.”

Their report even quotes TV celebrity Mary Portas rooting for local markets.

The development control committee is made up of four Tories, three Lib Dems and three Labour, including chairman Brian White. Traditionally it votes against the recommendations of council officers in one out of every five applications.

Mr White said: “On one hand we have a £40 million investment in MK as well as 400 retail and 250 construction jobs. On the other we have the relocation of a market and the demolition of a bridge.

“It is our job to decide which of these is best for MK.”

Meanwhile shopping centre bosses are hoping Primark will not give up on Milton Keynes. Development director Jonathan Weymouth said: “We are obviously disappointed with regard to the planning officers’ recommendation for our proposals at Secklow Gate. The owners are now carefully considering their position.”