Developer responds to stinging rebuke of Milton Keynes housing layout proposals

A developer says it has responded to public criticism of the proposed layout of 152 new homes in western Milton Keynes and now it wants to get on and build them.

Bovis Homes has applied to Milton Keynes Council for it to approve the finer details of its plans for parcels of land in the Western Expansion Area off Watling Street and Dansteed Way.

The Western Expansion Area

The Western Expansion Area

Outline permission has already been granted for a residential development of up to about 4,330 homes in the wider expansion area, so the latest application is to cross some t’s and dot i’s on a particular plot.

But some defenders of Milton Keynes’s much-loved grid road system have made their voices heard at public consultation events held by Bovis Homes. They have objected to plans for ‘city streets’ where car parking places are set aside on the roads, instead of off-street.

One objector filled in a feedback form saying: “The City Streets are a disaster for Milton Keynes” and claimed the developers have “ignored the wishes of the city and its councillors.

“City Streets do not work, look at Countess Way in the east. A disaster in the making. I will encourage people to avoid these doomed homes.”

And, while most of the feedback centred on interest in buying the houses once they are built, another objector wrote: “The grid road system should have been retained.”

The developer’s agent, Woods Hardwick, of Bedford, responded in the planning documents.

They said: “Most of the negative comments where based around the City Street concept as a departure from the Grid Road system.

“However, there was useful discussion regarding the architecture of the City Street, which has since been evolved based on those comments. In particular, the general consensus was that the group wanted to see something modern, tasteful and timeless, citing examples ‘contemporary’ mono-pitched developments within Milton Keynes as poor.

“Since the events and meetings, the applicant has engaged further with the council to further critique and evolve the proposed scheme to the proposals before the council now.

“The applicant has listened to all of the comments made and considers the application has evolved to facilitate the comments as best as possible.”

But they say that they can only go so far because Bovis Homes bought the parcel of land on the basis of design rules at the time. And they say a design code introduced in January 2016 could “jeopardise the commerciality the site has been purchased upon.”

They say this is because if parking spaces have to be designed within a development, instead of on the road, it means that fewer homes can be built.

Woods Hardwick has also called for the application to be “determined as soon as possible”. But they recognise that it might not be and add if there is any difficulty in approving it they would be “grateful if we could be given the opportunity of discussing the merits of the application further before it is determined.”

People can make comments at MK Council's planning portal.