Mix of emotions as residents in Milton Keynes vote for estate regeneration
A mixture of anger, relief, and joy greeted a clear majority vote for extensive regeneration of a Milton Keynes estate.
Three hundred and 80 (380) votes were cast in the Fullers Slade regeneration ballot on Friday and Saturday, with 209 of them opting for the full fat option 3, which will mean the demolition of 92 homes.
Homeowner Anne Ball, of Shepherds was in tears after hearing the result at 5pm on Saturday (Nov 30). She has been told that her privately owned property has been earmarked for demolition. “It is our family home,” she said. “Now we have years of uncertainty ahead.”
Council tenant Helen Havens said: “Over my dead body will I be moving out. I have a three bedroom house which is full of memories. They will not give us a like for like property and no way will I move into a smaller house.”
But others were happy at the result, announced by Milton Keynes Council deputy returning officer Peter Brown, at the Rowan Centre, in Moorfoot. A crowd of more than 30 people applauded after the count that was carried out by four council staff in a 30 minute operation.
Sylvia Airs, who chairs the resident-led Regeneration Steering Group, said: “I am delighted with the result. The RSG accepts the result, it is a very clear winner.”
But she said she was mindful of those people who were disappointed by the result, which was one of three options. The others were for no regeneration, which received the second highest backing at 110 votes, and a less intensive version of the winning option, which was backed by 61 votes.
Cllr Nigel Long (Lab, Bletchley West), the council’s housing chief, welcomed the 65 per cent turnout but admitted the process had been a “difficult period.”Cllr Long said residents would be fully involved in drawing up the fine details of a planning application, which the council aims to submit next year.
It could include 369 new homes, including private homes to be sold to help pay for regeneration works, an extended park, shops and local facilities, parking spaces and improved cycling.
“What we have got to do now is pull together and bring option three into reality,” said Cllr Long, who had supported the option. “There is a fantastic community of people here on Fullers Slade and I would like to congratulate them on the result.”
David Lee, secretary of Residents of Regeneration Estates (RoRE), said there were questions over whether the council did enough to make sure all the eligible residents – including 16 and 17 year-olds – got a vote.
“There may be grounds to challenge the result,” he said. “But RoRE will be remaining neutral. It is our job to support the residents associations.”
RoRE members are due to meet on December 6.
Bianca Bendig-Ceesay, who chairs Fullers Slade Residents Association, said the result was clear. Even if votes for option 1 and 2 were added up, they were still fewer than option 3. But there was a difference of opinion with others, so it may not be the end of this story.