Bus for the homeless allowed to move to new site near objecting Milton Keynes residents

A bus for homeless people in Milton Keynes has been allowed to move with its dog kennel and a smoking shelter to a car park 25 metres from a residential area.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 4:40 pm

The Bus Shelter MK’s application to put its double decker in the free car park in Avebury Boulevard for two years was objected to by residents, another council, and two of the borough’s three ward councillors.

“This is the only option for us in the short term,” said Pam Williams, who chairs the charity’s trustees, at Thursday’s meeting of MK Council’s development control committee. “Without it, we would have to close.”

Council officers had recommended granting permission to the temporary change of use of the site, next to Highbury Lane.

The development control committee discussing the bus for the homeless

Ms Williams admitted that the sloping site was not ideal, and they would prefer another solution while they look for more permanent “bricks and mortar” accommodation.

She said at most eight people, six of whom work, would be at the site which provides a one-to-one support and somewhere “stable and caring” and safe and warm to sleep.

Two of the three Campbell Park and Old Woughton ward councillors, Paul Trendall (Lib Dem) and Terry Baines (Cons) said they had no issue with the charity but said the bus would be in the wrong place.

Cllr Baines stood down from the committee to speak against, while fellow committee member Cllr Ric Brackenbury took part in the debate. He said he had not objected and had kept an open mind.

Cllr Baines said he had always supported the bus but “it is the right project in the wrong place.”

Cllr Trendall feared the temporary site would become permanent.

Resident Larry Kavanagh said: “Don’t get bounced into a bad planning decision because the developer wants to move them from their current site.”

The charity has been told it has to move from Colgrain Street because of housing development on the way in North Campbell Park.

Planning officer Lakeisha Peacock said the committee was not allowed to consider other sites. She said temporary permission means it would not be allowed to continue.

She said the car park was not owned by the residents, and highways officers had not raised concerns.

She said: “Environmental health has no concerns. To be grounds for refusal it would need to demonstrate a harm to human health.”

Committee members focused on how they could approve impose conditions on the smoking shelter, and kennels.

Cllr Brackenbury said: “The fact we have a homeless shelter looking for a temporary home is an irony not lost on me.”

He said called for the kennels to go.

But Cllr Martin Petchey (Lab, Stantonbury) said: “If a neighbour decided to have a dog, or smoke, it would not be grounds for rejecting the house.”

Councillors voted to grant permission.