Land transfer set to ‘boost growth’

Civic Offices
Civic Offices

DEVELOPMENT at sites including Milton Keynes Bowl and the Coachway is to be transferred to the control of Milton Keynes Council.

As part of a new deal, the Government has agreed the transfer of land, assets and responsibilities, worth £32million, from the Homes and Communities Agency to the council.

It will mean the local authority has complete control over planning on this land, something council leader Andrew Geary said will help bring more growth, investors and jobs.

Councillor Geary said the move puts decisions back in ‘democratically controlled hands,’ adding: “There is greater potential for us as a council now. Being the sole planning authority, and having control of additional land assets gives the council greater flexibility to manage the whole package efficiently and effectively.

“We can deliver the right conditions for growth, attracting investors and creating more jobs. It’s truly localism in action.”

The council will obtain land assets from the HCA including sites for new homes, offices and commercial premises. This will involve around 20 main sites, including MK Bowl and the Coachway.

A period of consultation will now take place on the transfer of planning functions. After that a paper will go to Parliament to formally transfer powers from the HCA to the council.

Mr Geary added: “This is an important new chapter for Milton Keynes. For the first time, local democratically elected people are in a position to control the destiny of Milton Keynes, and in turn, residents will have a much fuller say on the development of their city.

“There is accountability there now. If people don’t like the decisions then people will vote against us.”

The news was also welcomed by chairman of campaign group Xplain, Linda Inoki, who has fought against developments including the casino at Xscape and the shopping centre development.

She said: “For far too long ordinary citizens have been powerless to stop the HCA doing exactly what it wanted.

“CMK’s most depressing building, the windswept Hub, was one of their bright ideas. The lack of grid roads in new expansion areas was another.”