Town council expresses 'disappointment' about £35m regeneration scheme in Milton Keynes

Planning permission was granted this month

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 11:37 am
Updated Thursday, 19th August 2021, 11:38 am

Town councillors have revealed their disappointment about four key issues surrounding the new Agora development scheme.

After 25 years of plans and promises, permission to demolish the Agora to build 115 new homes was finally granted earlier this month.

There will also be community space, independent shops and green space - but the development will cover the existing large public car park .

Wolverton's Agora will now be bulldozed

The scheme, called Love Wolverton and submitted through a company called TOWN, won the praise of borough councillors even before it went to the official development control committee.

But members of the local Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council, along with many residents, are not 100% happy about it.

Today the town council has given a statement exclusively to the Citizen to explain its four main reservations.

It reads: "Since its inception we have been actively supporting residents and businesses in their desire to have the Agora replaced. "The ccouncil have been unwavering in their support of residents, businesses and visitors to Wolverton for appropriate parking supply when in negotiations with the developers from the outset.

These new homes will be built in its place

"The gift of the Agora from the Development Corporation in the late 1970's served to split Wolverton not only emotionally, but physically, severing the town in two. The town council, and many of the constituents we represent, absolutely want the development of the Agora site to go ahead but have four main reservations which we asked the development control committee to consider. These concerns had been agreed by the full council of Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council, including those who wear two hats as ward and town councillors.

"MK Council are supporting the Developer TOWN with £35M of public money for this development and we thought that would give MKC sufficient influence to be able to make the development the best it could be, rather than just good enough for Wolverton."

The first issue is parking and public transport, which the town council said was "ably explained" by Alan Francis and Jenny Dione at the development control meeting.

Town councillors feel parking is already a problem in the Victorian town, where streets are narrow and the majority of homes have roadside parking only. The new influx of homes, the lack of parking spaces in the plan and the loss of the Agora car park will make the problem even worse, they feel.

An aerial view shows how central the Agora is to the town

The second issue is the need for a public toilet facility. This was left out of the proposals after the original planning application from another company, Brickhill Estate, was withdrawn several years ago.

The third issue is the need for the scheme to be in keeping with the conservation area, for example with horizontal split sash windows and an uneven roofline. The new buildings will not reflect this, say protesters.

And the final issue is the "unacceptable gateway building" which blocks the views of the Wolverton listed buildings, says the town council.

They say all these issues were raised in over 200 submissions to the original planning application in January 2021

"We were disappointed for the residents of Wolverton and the surrounding estates that the ward councillors didn’t support the concerns of their residents, said their statement.

"Going forward, the town council has asked MK Council planning to set up consultation meetings for the local residents to the development, so that they can be properly involved in ensuring the mitigations will be in place during what will be an exciting, but noisy and dusty, build.

"We ask that any residents living or working close to the site in Buckingham Street, Church Street. or Radcliffe Street and are interested in such a group contact the town council."

The email address is [email protected].