Iconic building comes tumbling down in Milton Keynes town
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The Agora in Wolverton is being demolished to make way for dozens of new homes under the ‘Love Wolverton’ development scheme.
A community event was held this morning to mark the official end of the era for the building
The Agora Centre was built in 1978 by the then Milton Keynes Development Corporation to replace the old market hall in Creed Street.
It was intended to be a thriving meeting place and market venue, but critics swiftly dubbed it the ‘white elephant of Wolverton’ and complained that it cut the town in two.
During the 1980s, the Agora became a roller skating rink where regular roller discos were held.
Though many people have happy memories of the roller rink, the Agora has always been described as the ‘marmite of the town’ – people either loved the building or hated it.
Finally, after years of effort, planning permission was granted last year for developers TOWN to demolish the building and build a housing development.
Originally the award-winning £25m scheme was due to be funded by the private developers, but Milton Keynes Council had to suddenly step in with funding earlier this year.
The reasons were never made clear but are thought to be financial.
Now Milton Keynes Council, TOWN and the future construction company will “work in partnership” to deliver the multi-million-pound regeneration, says the council.
The scheme, still under the Love Wolverton banner, will see new homes, shops, streets, and community facilities.
There will be 86 new homes ,31% of which will be affordable housing, together with the city’s first co-housing scheme which combines private and social housing for over 50s.
Eight new shops will be built for local businesses and there will be a sustainable mobility hub, which includes an electric car club and bike hire facility.
The latter will be needed as there will be limited parking and car-free “little streets” in the development.
An energy microgrid will generate two-thirds of the annual energy needs of the development on-site and there will be a “pocket park” for residents and visitors to use.
The Love Wolverton scheme will also include 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.
This morning’s event was attended by council officers, councillors, the Mayor of Wolverton, development managers at TOWN and other stakeholders.
Contractor Goody are in charge of the demolition and are expected to finish in October.
Meanwhile, MK Council is busy tendering for a construction company to deliver the scheme. An appointment is expected early next year and works will start by the Spring.
Wolverton Ward councillor Rob Middleton, who is also Cabinet member for Resources, has been leading on the project. He said: “I’m thrilled that we’re making great progress with the regeneration of Wolverton, as this project has been nearly a decade in the making. Demolition is nearly complete and soon we will see our partners begin to bring the highly acclaimed Love Wolverton scheme to life.
"The town is a historic hub with endless potential, and the Love Wolverton scheme will ensure it will be enjoyed by generations to come.”