Angry residents argued in vain for Milton Keynes Council to pause on plans to consult on the development of more than 140 acres of open countryside to the south of the city.
Residents and local councillors are concerned that the development of South Caldecotte, in Bow Brickhill parish, will add to huge problems with traffic on Brickhill Street, near the railway station, and down to the McDonald’s roundabout on the A5.
Cllr Rebecca O’Rourke, who chairs Bow Brickhill Parish Council, criticised MK Council for failing to speak to the parish, and failing in its duty of care.
“What sort of thought has been put into it?” she asked cabinet member for customer service Cllr Mick Legg on Tuesday (March 12). ” You will be destroying the countryside to make commercial progress.”
The framework has pinpointed a minimum of 195,000 sq m of employment space in the triangle bounded by the A5, the Bedford to Bletchley railway line, and Brickhill Street.
Resident Sue Malleson accused the council of making a ‘grave error’, saying a proposal to set aside land for a bridge near Bow Brickhill station did not have the agreement of Network Rail. She added that the impact on traffic needs to be assessed.
“You are putting the cart before the horse,” she said, arguing for a full traffic impact assessment.
Ward councillors Alice Jenkins and David Hopkins said that the plan should wait until the route of the East West Rail and Oxford Cambridge Expressway were known. Cllr Hopkins said: “This is very premature.”
Neil Sainsbury, the council’s head of urban design and landscape architecture, said traffic assessments could not be carried out for the South Caldecotte Development Framework, which sets the principle of development.
Full traffic assessments are carried out when individual planning applications come forward, he said. And on the issue of reserving space for a bridge, he said it was “feasible”, even if Network Rail did not want it.
Cllr Legg said South Caldecotte had been pinpointed as a “strategic employment site” in Plan:MK, which is set to become the bible for development in Milton Keynes planning circles.
Cllr Legg received advice that stated that it is not reasonable to delay development of a site which is allocated in the development plan.
Any planning applications that come forward in the meantime to develop the could not be rejected on the grounds that they were ‘premature’, a council report stated.
Cllr Legg used his delegated power to issue the framework for a full eight week period of public consultation. This will take it beyond the election period and come back to the cabinet “not before July.”