Still no sign of report into Milton Keynes giant warehouse planning issues

Residents and councillors still have no idea when a long-awaited independent report will be published into how a giant warehouse was controversially given planning permission.
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Milton Keynes Council had been expecting that the review of the Blakelands warehouse decision would be completed by independent consultant Marc Dorfman by September 2019.

Now, six months later, a committee was told that no date has yet been fixed for Mr Dorfman to present his findings. The warehouse, in Yeomans Drive, had been allowed to nearly double in height, to 18m tall, in 2018.

The council’s placemaking scrutiny committee had been hoping to examine the report at its meeting on Wednesday.

The controversial warehouse in BlakelandsThe controversial warehouse in Blakelands
The controversial warehouse in Blakelands

Tracy Darke, the council’s director of growth, economy, and culture, identified the Blakelands warehouse as one of a number of “difficult issues” facing the planning department.

“We have had a letter of apology from Mr Dorfman, saying sorry and the delay was his fault” she said.

“He was due to be interviewing me on Monday but this was cancelled. I’m hoping it will be now in mid-March.”

Such an interview would have meant the report was on its way, the committee heard.

Wednesday's meeting of the placemaking scrutiny committeeWednesday's meeting of the placemaking scrutiny committee
Wednesday's meeting of the placemaking scrutiny committee

Chairman Cllr Peter Geary (Cons, Olney) said it was “embarrassing” and the fact the interview had not taken place meant that “we are still nowhere near the report.”

A spokesman for the council said, after the meeting, that Mr Dorfman was in the process of compiling the report, but the council had not insisted on a date for it to be completed.

He said the report was considering a wide number of issues and Mr Dorfman would present the report when he has completed it. But the council was not putting pressure on him to get it done because it is an independent review.

“We want to see it because we want to improve our service,” he added.

But the fact that the report is not ready yet is causing concern among residents.

A spokesman for Blakelands Residents’ Association said: “We were originally tolt that Marc Dorfman was confident he would be able to complete his review of the Blakelands warehouse by September 2019.

“We are deeply concerned that the review is still not completed nearly six months later.

“We are equally very concerned that certain residents have not been contacted by Mr Dorfman, despite assurances that he would speak to everyone.”

The residents association believes there are “clear failures” by Milton Keynes Council to ensure that this review is managed so it meets various deadlines.

They added: “The added delays and the lack of any updates is deeply worrying for the residents and it is unacceptable given the ordeal that the residents have already had to endure.”