A plan to build offices, shops, and buildings for community and leisure use on two car parks in Central Milton Keynes has been recommended for approval despite the temporary loss of 580 spaces.
Major MK employer Santander UK has applied to the borough council to redevelop the land at Grafton Gate and replace 986 public and employee parking spaces there with 884 in basement and surface car parks.
Council planning officers in their report to the Development Control Committee on July 4 say that the permanent loss of 102 spaces and the temporary loss of 580 spaces while the new development is built is worth it on balance for economic reasons.
The two current car parks site, between Grafton Gate and Elder Gate, is close to the existing Santander House, Station Square, and the old bus station.
The proposed four-block building would be seven storeys (34m) above ground level and cover a total area of 54,994 sq-m. It would provide space for Santander offices, flexible space for local business, start-up companies, and the bank’s clients.
There would also be a food hall and flexible auditorium space for events, presentations and functions, available for both staff and community use. It would also host pop-up stores and a gym.
Planners, in their report to councillors, say: “The shortfall in staff car parking for the proposed building is considered acceptable. However, the loss of public car parking spaces should be compensated with a commuted sum for public parking elsewhere in CMK.
“The temporary loss of 580 parking spaces on site will place pressure on the parking in CMK and a temporary solution should be provided whereby that number of spaces can be accommodated elsewhere.”
They add: “In terms of the temporary loss of parking during the construction phase, it is recognised that the mitigation that will take place will not be sufficient to fully off-set harm during this phase.
“However, in terms of the planning balance, the short term nature of most of this harm has to be considered.
“Moreover, the longer terms benefits of the scheme, which are expected to be enjoyed in Milton Keynes from the development over a number of decades have to be taken into consideration, as well as the harm to the area more widely if this scheme were not to come forward.”
They add that Santander is a vital partner in the project to build MK:U, the UK’s first digitally focused university, in MK.