Massive new business site in Milton Keynes “would lead to total loss of Roman ruins” – report

A massive new warehouse and logistics park being planned on farmland to the south of Milton Keynes would totally destroy valuable Roman ruins.

By David Tooley, local democracy reporter
Monday, 3rd February 2020, 5:24 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 5:25 pm

That’s according to a report for a meeting to decide whether to allow huge warehouses to be built on a 58-hectare site near Caldecotte and Bow Brickhill.

Nick Crank, senior archaeological officer at Milton Keynes Council, says the “proposed development will lead to the total loss of significant buried archaeological remains of probable national significance.

This, he says includes a Roman street and buildings forming part of the Roman town of Magiovinium.

The triangle of land north of the big A5 roundabout is earmarked for business use

Magiovinium is the only recorded Roman town in Buckinghamshire. Archaeological finds have included evidence of substantial buildings and high-status pottery.

Reports to this Thursday’s meeting of MK Council’s development control committee say the developers have not presented a “clear and convincing justification for total loss of heritage assets of archaeological interest.”

Historic England has also objected.

David Wilkinson, the inspector of ancient monuments, said: “The total loss of archaeological remains of high significance is being proposed, partly by downplaying their significance and also without following good practice as to mitigation.”

Council officers in recommending refusal say even though the scheme would bring economic benefits, there are also “significant concerns”.

“The loss of these assets would result in a high level of harm that, particularly in the case of the archaeological assets could not be replaced or mitigated, which has been confirmed both by MKC Archaeologists but also by Historic England specialists, ” planning officers say.

Developers HB (South Caldecotte) Limited have submitted hundreds of pages of reports to the council.

They have engaged their own archaeologists and say they the application meets a “pressing high need for high quality well-located modern logistics buildings and facilities.”

The developers say that the “archaeology of the site has been fully investigated with mitigation proposed to ensure that the heritage asset at the site is recorded.

“The reports provided with the planning application illustrate that heritage assets in the form of buried archaeology remains can be mitigated through the planning process.”

The application has been objected to by local councillors, Bow Brickhill Parish Council, Walton Community Council, with more than 80 objections recorded by the council’s planning department.

The site is earmarked for development in the Plan:MK planning bible but does not yet have a development framework.

The council put the development framework on hold in the summer as they await the outcome of plans for a possible East-West Expressway road.

Objectors say deciding the future of the site without a development framework would be premature.

But the developers have now forced the issue, and their application will be decided by elected members of the development control committee on Thursday (Feb 6).

It is a meeting open to the public and starts at 7pm, at MK Council’s offices in Saxon Gate East.