Office conversion scheme in Milton Keynes is approved through gritted teeth

A plan to convert a city centre office block into 40 flats has been given the green light despite it falling 30 parking spaces short.

Councillors bemoaned the fact that it blows a hole in Milton Keynes Council’s own parking policies, but granted the addition of two floors to Chancery House, in Silbury Boulevard at Thursday’s meeting of the Development Control Committee.

Chancery House

Chancery House

Councillors also questioned the receipt of £75,000 in section 106 payments from the developer, Fraserview Investment, which is meant to go to providing more car parking spaces in the city.

They queried which it would go to providing spaces and were told it is allocated to parking, but not necessarily in the city centre.

Cllr Terry Baines (Cons, Campbell Park & Old Woughton) said there was nowhere to put new parking bays near Chancery House. “It can’t be mitigated with money. I cannot support the shortfall, which affects Oldbrook and Fishermead, where they will go to park.”

Cllr Andrew Geary (Cons, Newport Pagnell North & Hanslope) referred to the council’s loss of a planning appeal to convert part of Station House in Station Square into 200 flats.

“In the light of that, I would like to agree with Terry but I can’t. Our parking standards have been rendered useless by the planning inspector,” he said.

But Cllr Martin Petchey (Lab, Stantonbury) said he thought arguing against the plan on parking grounds is “mistaken” because of the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

“The one thing we are going to have to do is be less dependent on the car. We should grasp the nettle and say to people that we don’t want them to have a car, and insist,” he said.

Cllr Ric Brackenbury (Lib Dem, Campbell Park & Old Woughton) said the section 106 money was a “bribe” and does not sort the parking issue out.

Cllr Baines said several plans had been approved with insufficient parking, adding to the cumulative harm.

“People are scrambling for car parking. This has got to stop somewhere.”

When it came to the crunch, despite their concerns councillors saw no option but to vote in favour of the plan.

The developers had already won the right to convert the block to offices, this application was to add on two more floors to Chancery House.