Residents’ dismay as Milton Keynes warehouse review gives only ‘preliminary’ findings

An independent reviewer has concluded that the council came to a “bona fide and proper” decision to grant permission for a warehouse to double in height in a residential area of Milton Keynes.
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Planning consultant Marc Dorfman has also found that a controversial decision to change a planning officer during the application process for the warehouse in Blakelands was “perfectly reasonable and is common”.

And Mr Dorfman has concluded that when 13 planning conditions were left off a decision notice sent to developers it “looks like and (sic) administrative error”.

“It just so happens that a large number of “neighbour amenity protection conditions, but not all, were in the second half of the conditions list,” he says.

Blakelands warehouseBlakelands warehouse
Blakelands warehouse

But Mr Dorfman said that although he believed the decision was bona fide, officer reports to the development control committee had “over flattered the proposal and under played concerns.”

But he concluded that taken together the officer report, and the presentations at the committee were “appropriately professional, objective and accurate.”

Mr Dorfman’s report, which was received at 11.25pm on Monday, was not well received by residents or the Conservative opposition.

A statement by the Blakelands Residents Association said they “are deeply frustrated” that the report is only preliminary and not the full report. They see it as the 15th missed deadline.

“There is a clear lack of factual evidence provided to support some of his conclusions and there are a large number of hypotheses which can easily be disproven by evidence already in the public domain,” the statement reads.

The residents association adds that “it is obvious that the preliminary findings have been rushed to produce something for yesterday’s latest deadline in draft format.

“The entire process has been nothing more than a total waste of £20,000 of taxpayers’ money,” said the residents in a statement posted on Facebook this morning (Tuesday).

They want to see external auditors brought in to investigate the circumstances surrounding the approval of the Blakelands warehouse and the “long list of mistakes that followed”.

They add: “The current situation is unacceptable and the residents of Blakelands and Milton Keynes deserve better.”

They are being supported by Milton Keynes Conservatives whose leader Cllr Alex Walker (Stantonbury) said: “We support Blakelands residents in their efforts to get the answers they deserve.

“More than a year on, we still don’t have the full report. The preliminary findings lack detail, rationale and any evidence.

“We can’t give any informed view on what we have in front of us. We remain in full support of the calls for an external audit.”

A spokesman for MK Council said: “The council’s audit committee will review the report received by Mr Dorfman and determine the next steps at a meeting on December 1.”

That meeting is due to hear from Mr Dorfman and local residents.