Planning application for new Milton Keynes university set to be lodged this summer

A planning application for a new £400m university campus in central Milton Keynes could be lodged with the council as early as this summer, a meeting heard.

Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 6:05 pm

The latest thinking about how the new MK:U will be designed on the disused site opposite Sainsbury’s in the city were presented at Monday’s meeting of the MK Council development review forum.

The forum is held to consider how developments are designed. Meetings are held in public to iron out issues before applications are officially lodged.

Housing campaigner Lawrence Morgan, co-founder of Milton Keynes Community Land Trust, urged leaders from Cranfield University and Hopkins Architects to consider where up to 15,000 students could live.

The site of the proposed new university in MK

“We already have a problem with houses in multiple occupation,” said Mr Morgan. “I would like to present the idea of having student housing co-operatives.” He later spoke to Cranfield University chiefs in more detail about his ideas.

The meeting heard that the university will gradually grow to the 15,000 mark, starting off at 5,000 after 2023, when the new campus is scheduled to open. Some students would already live in MK, many would commute in every day, and there would be accommodation on the campus.

Other concerns expressed at the meeting were over traffic and parking, with Cllr Andrew Thomas of CMK Town Council, pointing out that the new Santander HQ building near the railway station would bring in thousands of people.

He was told that transport experts at Hopkins were due to start their technical work on those aspects.

And Tim Skelton, of MK Forum, urged the project leaders not to let a cheap operator take the 120 bed conference and hotel site being planned opposite Sainsbury’s.

“My heart sinks when I hear about a 120-bed conference hotel that could be taken by a cheap operator,” he said. “The whole site could be degraded.”

There were also calls for an underpass under Avebury Boulevard to be re-opened, have a colonnade for pedestrians, and to make sure that lorry deliveries and other traffic does not block bus routes.

The architects, represented by Mike Taylor and Sophy Twohig, said they would consider the comments.

Further updated MK:U plans are due to be presented again to the development review forum on March 2.

The meeting was told that the project’s leaders are working on submitting a planning application in the summer, which would mean that they are on track to open for the 2023-24 academic year.