“Metropolitan MK” vision for a Milton Keynes of 500,000 people set for launch on Monday

A council vision to create a boundary-busting “Metropolitan MK” with a population of half a million and a mass rapid transport system  is set to be officially launched on Monday.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 2:00 pm

Members of parish councils in the city were given an exclusive preview of the MK Futures 2050 document at a meeting on Thursday (Jan 16).

Geoff Snelson, the director of strategy and futures at the council, told the gathering that the vision for a “Greater MK” would see the city grow from its current 314,828 population to 400,000 in 2040 and 500,000 in 2050.

Mr Snelson told forum members that an extensive “public engagement strategy” is being launched on Monday (Jan 20), with a deadline for comments of April 3.

Thursday's parishes forum

“Plans to take the city up to 400,000 by 2040 are already planned,” said Mr Snelson. “This is about thinking ahead another 10 years. It isn’t science, this is about having an ambition.”

Mr Snelson said the vision would then have to be translated into a future local plans, and be subject to the planning process. It would mean increasing annual housebuilding from 2,700 to 2,900.

But he said by thinking ahead, the council could attract significant investment from the government, which would be needed to help pay for a £1.1 billion “mass rapid transit” system.

He said this would involve “rubber on the road” rather than tracks, and he revealed that the council is looking at using self-driving, laser-guided buses on a city wide transport network.

Mr Snelson revealed that officers have been talking to both Aylesbury Vale District Council and South Northamptonshire District Council about being seen as “Metropolitian MK”.

This was picked up by Cllr Ernie Thomas, of West Bletchley Council, who has been campaigning against proposals for housing at Shenley Park, Eaton Leys and Salden Chase, which are in the Aylesbury Vale district.

“Having developments near to the boundaries is the opposite of what the planning department is saying,” said Cllr Thomas. MK Council has objected over Aylesbury Vale planning to develop on the boundaries of MK.

But Mr Snelson said the vision was not in opposition to the planning department. “If development takes place without reference to us, it is going to be sub-optimal quality,” he said.

“We’ve got to take the first step in that conversation, we want to have a proper conversation,” he added.

The engagement will involve a range of public meetings, with the final proposals going to cabinet and full council after May’s round of local elections.