Councillors dig heels in over plant plan for Bicycle Mural near new Aldi in Milton Keynes

Horticulturally minded councillors have dug their heels in and refused to sign off the landscaping details at the new Aldi store in Stantonbury.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 10:36 am

At the root of the prickly problem is a relocated much-loved Bicycle Mural and advice from a specialist Milton Keynes Council officer who says the wrong plants have been used to stop the artwork being vandalised.

The council says that mural has also been placed 1.5 metres nearer a redway than they wanted.

“Apart from the fact that it is not in the right place and it’s the wrong plant it seems to be fairly nice,” said Cllr Paul Trendall (Lib Dem, Campbell Park & Old Woughton).

“But actually that’s all that really counted, and what we spent hours talking about before.

“Here we are being asked to approve something that is none of that which we asked for and we are almost being told by the officers that it’s ok.

“I feel it’s not ok, it’s not what we wanted.”

Such issues are usually dealt with behind the scenes in MK Council’s planning department.

A close up of part of Bicycle Mural

But the historic Bicycle Mural issue has been so controversial that it was brought to elected councillors at Thursday’s meeting of the development control committee to decide the issue.

Planning officer Katy Lycett recommended that councillors should say that the condition has been discharged.

The officers took what was described as a pragmatic view that when taken as a whole the “hard and soft” landscaping around the new Aldi is fine.

Even though the store was built before the condition was approved, the council thought it was expedient not to carry out enforcement action as the developers had shown intent by submitting an earlier plan.

The development control committee

“The developers were trying to adhere to the wording of the condition,” she said.

But councillors at yesterday’s (Thursday) development control committee had other ideas.

The council’s own landscaping officer wanted the plants used to be “substituted for robust, low maintenance shrubs that don’t grow above the height of the bottom tiles.”

Cllr John Bint (Cons, Broughton) said: “We’ve gone to a lot of trouble for this mural.

“We now know that it hasn’t got the landscape buffer in front of it that we had approved.

“And we have a specialist officer saying it’s the wrong plant for the location.”

And Cllr Norman Miles (Lab, Wolverton) said: “We’re not holding up the development. I don’t think developers can pick and choose.”

The committee rules say two votes have to be taken if the committee goes against an officer recommendation.

All 10 members of the committee voted against saying that the condition had been discharged.

They then had to vote to refuse it, and did so unanimously with the precise wording to be finalised by officers in consultation with the leading councillors.