Plan is IN for demolition of battered shopping centre in Milton Keynes

A planning application has been lodged for the demolition of Wolverton’s run-down Agora Centre.

Developer TOWN has submitted the application for the first stage of the wholesale redevelopment of Church Street site, which is now open for public comments on Milton Keynes Council’s planning portal.

James Cox, the development manager for TOWN, said: “We have a clear mandate from local people to bring it down. This is the first step to enable the redevelopment to happen.”

He said the company wanted to act as soon as possible to demolish the Agora, but not before Christmas.

It is now due to be determined by planners by January 3, according to details on the MK Council website.

The centre sits in the Wolverton Conservation area and was the subject of a failed bid to get English Heritage to protect it as a listed building. Historic England rejected the application in the summer, opening the way to the new plan.
Love Wolverton Ltd is a development partnership between TOWN and Trivselhus UK and a statement on their website reads: “This follows wide-ranging consultation with key stakeholders and the local community of Wolverton that showed strong support for early demolition of the building, which is the first step towards the redevelopment of the whole site.

The Agora Centre dominates the centre of Wolverton

The Agora Centre dominates the centre of Wolverton

“Should the application be approved, demolition could take place in early 2020, avoiding any disruption to the town centre during the busy Christmas trading period.”

It adds: “We’re looking forward to waving goodbye to the Agora as a part of the Wolverton Lantern Festival on 23rd November, and we hope to see many of you there.”

As far as the wider redevelopment plan goes, Love Wolverton says work continues to develop the scheme before a planning application is submitted.

But this has been put up for review. The statement reads: “Unfortunately, continuing uncertainty over Brexit and the UK’s housing and construction markets are hampering efforts to prepare an application that is both in line with our and the community’s vision, and reliably deliverable in a timely way in a range of market conditions.

“We currently hope to submit a planning application for the full scheme during the first quarter of 2020.”

The plan developed so far would lead to the reinstatement of the traditional street pattern, building new shops and more than 100 very-low-carbon new homes, including family townhouses, affordable apartments and live-work units.

A previous planning application by the site’s previous owners was approved in 2016, which has now lapsed. Mr Cox confirmed that the new plan would not seek to re-approve the old one.