New one-page regeneration strategy in Milton Keynes is all “motherhood and apple pie”, say Tories

Milton Keynes from the air
Milton Keynes from the air

A council’s new regeneration strategy has been derided as all “motherhood and apple pie” even before it has been put out for public consultation.

Milton Keynes Council has published its new strategy – which will leave residents living “free from the fear of wholesale demolition” – which it fits on one page of A5.

“My concern is that this might be used to downscale our ambitions on regeneration,” said Cllr Allan Rankine (Bletchley Park), the Conservative group’s housing spokesman at Thursday’s meeting of the Regeneration Cabinet Sub-Committee.

“I hope the administration is not running away from the difficult aspects, the bricks and mortar stuff and changing the strategy to something that is just completely different to what we had before.

“The consultation is on one page of principles and I don’t think that’s enough. I think we should be consulting on detail. This is too high level and things you could hardly disagree with, motherhood and apple pie.

“We need a proper consultation and it needs to be on the things that are missing on this and what actually is happening on regeneration, not just principles.

“I would like to know what the council’s views are beyond the Lakes and Fullers Slade because it’s not just about the Lakes and Fullers Slade. There are many more areas that need attention.”

The other estates earmarked for regeneration were Tinkers Bridge, Netherfield, Coffee Hall, Beanhill, and Bradville.

But Cllr Rob Middleton (Lab, Wolverton), the council’s resources and innovation supremo said there was a conundrum. He wondered whether it was a good idea to issue a 25-page document “telling everyone what we think is the right answer, and then stakeholders and members of the public tell us is the wrong answer so we end up starting all over again.

“We’re not shying away from difficult choices. On the decisions we’ve taken this evening, they’ve been hard choices. It’s not easy having to listen to these diverging views and then take decisions.”

Resident Keith Aitchison, from Beanhill, wanted to know when other regeneration areas would be consulted. “People are asking, ‘what’s happening to us,” he said.

Michael Kelleher, the council’s director of housing and regeneration, said: “It’s the whole purpose of the change in emphasis. It gives us the chance to come and talk to local people.

“I note the five remaining areas that come after the Lakes and Fullers Slade, they want to know when they are going to be consulted.

“The way that it is operating at the moment, that area that might be seventh in the list might be 15 years away before we get round to consulting on anything.

“It will happen reasonably quickly after the new strategy has been approved. It needs to follow the approval of this strategy, so I would imagine sometime in early 2020, we will start to have those conversations.”

The consultation will launch on September 20 and last for eight weeks, closing on November 15. A further report will be submitted to Cabinet in December to seek approval and adoption of the revised strategy.