Community foundation plans land sell off in Milton Keynes to raise charity funds

Ian Revell
Ian Revell

A Milton Keynes charity plans to sell off the freeholds of some of its 50 plots of land across the city for new housing, it has been revealed.

The MK Community Foundation wants to raise more money for city wide causes, including child poverty which it is due to reveal is rising to unprecedented levels.

Speaking to the Parishes Forum at MK Council on Thursday, Ian Revell, the foundation’s chief executive, revealed that the organisation has developed a new property strategy for its undeveloped 34 sites around the city.

“It is a game changer for us,” said Mr Revell. “It is very new for the community foundation.” Until now, the foundation’s policy was not to sell off its sites for housing. It also raises money from other sources, including philanthropic individuals and companies.

It has 50 sites in total, which were endowed to it by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation in the 1990s, and 16 of them are currently occupied.

Responding to questions from parish councillors, Mr Revell revealed that the foundation has had “early discussions with Homes England.” And they are “talking about” using sites for supported living, affordable, and some “high value” housing.

The foundation’s former policy was to lease out land for community organisations to build on and pay a rent. But Mr Revell said the only groups taking advantage if it were “religious groups”.

To get a “more balanced” community use, the foundation needs to “use its resources to get more community buildings.”

It has plots of land across the city, including in Kiln Farm, Stacey Bushes, and Kingston and sees some of them providing venues for art and culture, and sports. Others would be released for potential sites for affordable housing, he said.

Every year the foundation, which is one of 46 around the UK, gives nearly £2million in grants to causes. Mr Revell said these causes include The Stables, for a deaf opera and disability awareness, and Bletchley Park, as well as money to 200 groups and organisations.

Mr Revell revealed that next week’s release of the foundation’s annual Vital Signs Report, will show that child poverty has risen to 50 per cent of all children in some city wards.

“It has got worse, it’s outrageous,” he said. “It’s got steadily worse, with some wards showing 50 per cent of children living in poverty.”

The foundation uses its Vital Signs report to encourage philanthropy to deal with city-wide issues.