Closed meeting in Milton Keynes to discuss options for Fullers Slade regeneration ballot

Cllr Hannah ONeil (Deputy Leader), right, and Rob Middleton (Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources), left, flanking members of the Fullers Slade Residents Steering Group
Cllr Hannah ONeil (Deputy Leader), right, and Rob Middleton (Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources), left, flanking members of the Fullers Slade Residents Steering Group

A meeting will be held behind closed doors this week to decide which regeneration options will be put to Fullers Slade residents in a crucial ballot in November.

Milton Keynes Council is crunching through the numbers after an analysis of three of the options revealed that all of them are currently suffering from “viability deficits” ranging from £12.9million to £93.4milion.

Work is continuing to take place on possible schemes to try to make them more viable, although information presented to Thursday’s meeting of the Regeneration Cabinet Sub-Committee indicated that the viability gaps are in fact WIDENING, not improving.

The council’s consultants Savills say that the two approaches that fall short of full demolition are the most likely to work while full demolition is their least viable option.

The council’s closed “workshop” to be held on Tuesday, September 17, will involve leading councillors, the Fullers Slade Resident Steering Group (RSG) and council officers. They will review the information before choosing the final approaches that they will recommend to a meeting of the council’s ruling Cabinet on October 1.

The Cabinet’s ground rules say that all of the options available on the ballot papers will be financially deliverable through council resources, council borrowing, or private funding.

And Michael Kelleher MK Council’s director, housing and regeneration said: “They all have a deficit, so the council has to make a decision in terms of what is its choice going to be around how it uses its funding. Does it wish to invest in these schemes and if so, to what level.

“The council does have an important role to play but this is resident-led, so we are working with the approaches that we’ve got with the input of residents.”

Cllr Allan Rankine (Cons, Bletchley Park) said: “It’s my understanding that all four options would be presented to residents but now there’s an uncertainty about that. I really think it is important that all four options are put on the ballot for them to make a choice.

“I’m also worried that when they make a choice it will be regarded as an ‘indicative’ vote. I would like to see some sort of guarantee from the council that they will enact what the residents decide, rather than just take it on board and decide something else.”

The approaches being developed are:

Approach 1 – No redevelopment, with the number of properties staying at 453. This means improving the current repairs and maintenance service, although Fullers Slade will have to compete with other areas for resources.

Approach 2 – Refurbishment and infill development. Council homes would be refurbished with £7.5million over 10 years. Some 192 more homes would be built. A viability deficit of £12.9million has been projected.

Approach 3 – Refurbishment, infill and enhanced estate improvements. There would be about 371 additional homes, including refurbishment of 252 council homes. The deficit financial viability gap has increased from £33.4million to £41.4million since July.

Approach 4 – Full redevelopment. It involves full demolition, replacement building, and adding about 819 new homes, effectively tripling the population of Fullers Slade to 1,253 homes. The financial viability gap for this option has moved from £53.1million to £93.4million.