Councillors sing praises of huge redevelopment just before planning permission is due to be granted in Milton Keynes town

Plan will almost certainly be agreed

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 2:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th July 2021, 3:00 pm

A plan to build new homes on the site of Wolverton's Agora building has won the praise of leading councillors a week before the decisive planning meeting.

Today the council's Progressive Alliance of ruling Labour and Lib Dem member put out a press release to sing the praises of the plan, which is being submitted by developer TOWN.

Labour councillor Rob Middleton Cabinet member for budget and resources said the £35m regenerations scheme, known as Love Wolverton, said he was delighted with the scheme, which will "breathe life" into the area.

Artists' impression of the new housing

He said: “MK’s Progressive Alliance is committed to a fairer and greener recovery from the pandemic and the Love Wolverton regeneration scheme will enable us to deliver this locally in Wolverton.

“Investment in affordable and sustainable housing, new independent shops and the creation of jobs will breathe life into the high street and help the local economy to recover in a fairer and greener way”

Cllr Middleton added: “We’ve worked closely with the community and local residents over the last two years and I’m delighted to see this redevelopment moving forward in a way that meets the needs of local people, local businesses and people across the city who will want to come and visit”

Plans to regenerate the Agora site have been proposed for almost 25 years. The Love Wolverton scheme involved demolishing the existing building and building 115 new homes, together with community space, independent shops and green space, in its place.

Artists' impression of the new housing

"Community space and retail units for independent shops will bring new opportunities for young people and local businesses to Wolverton, and a sustainable transport hub will offer people greener ways to get around," said a Progressive Alliance spokesman.

"In response to the Progressive Alliance’s commitment to taking action on climate change, the redevelopment will reduce carbon emissions by 70% with the inclusion of a renewable energy micro-hub on site," he said.

But, despite the Love Wolverton title, some people are not in love with the scheme at all. Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council initially registered a string of objections to the proposal, saying it was fundamentally flawed" on three key issues: conservation, lack of parking and height and mass of the proposed buildings.

They say the houses proposed by developer TOWN are not keeping with the Victorian heritage of Wolverton and the "boxy" roof designs would be a conspicuous intrusion into the historic rooftop vistas of the Conservation Area.

The Agora will be demolished

Their objection stated: "Consequently, the character and appearance of the CA would not be preserved or enhanced, and this could further lead to more residents submitting applications to install dormers to the rear of their properties which would fit with this development, rather than the terraced roofs that are seen to be a historic feature of the town."

Other objectors say the design of the homes looks "Swedish, not Victorian", while others say the whole scheme will cause parking chaos for residents throughout the town.