Residents pile pressure on Milton Keynes Council over Blakelands warehouse report

Residents are continuing to pile pressure on the council and individual councillors to commission a specialist external review into how a warehouse near their homes was allowed to double in height.
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A petition signed by 587 people was presented to the full council in Milton Keynes on Wednesday calling for specialist auditors to provide answers to questions about the process.

Presenting the petition, resident Yvonne Davies said: “This approval has set a precedent which, unless challenged, means an 18.5 metre warehouse could appear at the bottom of anyone’s garden in Milton Keynes.

“We the residents of Blakelands are united and determined to uncover the truth. we are not going to give up this fight and we are not going to stop pushing for answers.”

Among the concerns are that residents’ issues have been ‘constantly dismissed’ and “demeaned” by council officers, including over inaccurate measurements of buildings, shadows, noise and lighting.

They say they haven’t been given answers on how 13 conditions were left off planning approval, and why an inexperienced planner was handed the case and recommended it for approval.

A review by planning consultant Marc Dorfman remains uncompleted 20 months after it was called for at a cost of £20,000.

A preliminary report was riddled with spelling errors and residents identified unsubstantiated assertions.

Blakelands warehouseBlakelands warehouse
Blakelands warehouse

Now residents are calling for the council to draw a line under the Dorfman report and get a new one completed in three to six months.

Leading Lib Dem councillors, including the group leader who is one of the ward councillors for the Blakelands area, found their views under scrutiny.

Receiving the petition, the chairman of the council’s audit committee, Cllr Peter Cannon (Lib Dem, Shenley Brook End), declined to commit to asking for a new review.

Instead he referred the Mrs Davies to a meeting taking place next week when residents will be able to have their say. Mr Dorfman is also expected to be taking part, too.

Cllr Cannon indicated that the committee is still hoping to receive the full Dorfman report and that the committee would be able to make new recommendations.

He also revealed that the council decided to publish “what was available at the time” because the deputy chief executive had made a commitment to publish the Dorfman report.

Responding to a question from resident John Fernandez, Cllr Cannon said: “It wasn’t the full report and we hope that in time we will get the full report.

“We decided to publish what was available at the time we promised we would publish it. It was important to maintain the respect of the residents.”

Resident Turan Turan asked Lib Dem leader and Blakelands ward Cllr Douglas McCall (Newport Pagnell South) to commit to supporting his residents’ call for a further audit.

Cllr McCall said he would be attending the audit committee next week to make his points.

“It’s fair to say that everyone has been disappointed with the content of the report. The report fails to answer the key question.”