MK Council has finally bought the Wolverton Agora Centre and is preparing to demolish it.
The move means private developers TOWN, in partnership with Trivselhus UK, can build a complex of 86 new homes, plus shops and community spaces.
The £25m partnership, called the Love Wolverton project, says the homes will be "high density but low-rise" and describes the plans as "a 21st Century blueprint for town-centre living"
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Until now, the Agora has belonged to private sector owners. Milton Keynes Council, which granted planning permission to Love Wolverton last year, has this week secured the purchase.
Today the Labour/Lib Dem Progressive Alliance leaders of the council issued a press release saying the "exciting regeneration plans" can start. And the very first move will be demolition.
A spokesman for the alliance said: "After over two decades of false starts, Milton Keynes Council formally completed buying the site from private sector owners over the Christmas period. Ownership of the land and the return of the car park – which was on a long lease to the former owners- means demolition of the much loathed existing town centre building will now begin within months.
He added: "Demolition should be complete by Summer 2022, making way for the award-winning Love Wolverton scheme from developers TOWN, consisting of new homes, shops, streets, and community facilities."
The design comprises of six development blocks ranging between two and four-storeys, laid out in a grid of streets designed on Dutch low-traffic ‘home-zone’ principles to be green, sociable and play-friendly
Some 31% of the new homes will be affordable housing and there will be eight new shops for local businesses. Streets within the development will be car free and there will be a sustainable mobility hub, which includes an electric car club and bike hire facility.
A 'pocket park will be built for residents and visitors to use, while an energy microgrid will generate two-thirds of the annual energy needs of the development on-site.
Other improvements Wolverton planned by the council will include a new town centre car park at St George’s Way to replace the former Agora car park, alongside public realm improvements and a public toilet.
Rob Middleton , the Labour councillor for Wolverton Ward and the Cabinet member for Resources, has been campaigning for the regeneration for more than eight years:
He said: “This is a brilliant milestone in the regeneration of Wolverton. I have spent years consulting with residents and local businesses to find the best approach for the town centre’s regeneration, and I am pleased that we are finally making significant progress.
“Now that the council owns the Agora, we can hand the keys to the developers and start work on the multi-million-pound development that will breathe new life into Wolverton, while also providing green homes and exciting spaces for independent businesses.”
He added: “The Love Wolverton project will completely transform the railway town, providing attractive and open areas for the community to meet. We will continue to engage with the community throughout the demolition and construction process, and I look forward to seeing the project progress.”